06-28-2024, 1:29 PM

47.9 million viewers tuned in to the presidential debate between Biden and Trump

Debate between Biden and Trump - Video Screenshot

According to preliminary Nielsen ratings, 47.9 million people watched CNN's Thursday night debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

The 90-minute debate, which sent shockwaves throughout the political world, was carried on 22 networks.

Nearly 48 million people watched Thursday night's debate on television, a 35% decrease from 2020, when more than 73 million people watched Trump and Biden's first debate across all television networks. In 2016, a record 84 million people watched the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Compared to prior election years, fewer Americans watched the debate on television, but millions more did so on digital platforms.

Traditionally, the general election debates are hosted by the impartial Commission on Presidential Debates and shared with television networks. However, this year's primetime matchup was different.

While much of the emphasis in the aftermath of the debate was on Biden's performance, CNN's hands-off attitude to fact-checking during the debate drew criticism.

Presidential election cycles usually lead to a ratings surge for news networks as audiences follow the race, but 2024 has so far been an exception, with nearly all news outlets experiencing a drop in viewers compared to 2020.

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