ABC Outdraws NBC in Thursday’s Dueling Presidential Town Halls

ABC Outdraws NBC in Thursday's Dueling Presidential Town Halls

Ratings are in for the controversial President’s Town Hall clash between NBC and ABC on Thursday, and ABC’s Joe Biden was the winner of the ratings – although NBC News simulates President Trump’s Town Hall across multiple networks – like the one today Nielsen data published in the afternoon prove. (Note: this story will be updated later today with additional Nielsen data.)

The two-hour program, ABC News Town Hall, starring former Vice President Biden, hosted by George Stephanopoulos, drew 13.9 million viewers and 4.57 million in the news marketers’ most sought-after adult 25-54 demo from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET. NBC News’ hour-long Town Hall with Trump, hosted by Savannah Guthrie, served 13.1 million viewers and 3.62 million adults between the ages of 25 and 54 on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

ABC’s 13.9 million viewers represent the largest average audience in that particular two-hour period in more than 10 years. Head to head against Trump City Hall, the first hour of Biden City Hall reached an average of 14.1 million viewers and 4.49 million adults between the ages of 25 and 54.

Last night’s town hall with Biden significantly outperformed ABC News’ 90-minute town hall with Trump on September 16, which averaged just 3.97 million viewers. Biden’s ABC audience was 250% larger than Trump’s.

NBC’s Trump Town Hall ratings increased 96% in total viewers and 163% in adults between 25 and 54, compared to Town Hall on Oct. 5 with Biden, which drew 6.7 million viewers on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC – 3.85 million of them watched NBC while 2.67 million others watched MSNBC.

Even the combined ratings of both town halls – 27 million – are less than half the likely audience for the second presidential debate, which was slated for Thursday night until Trump withdrew last week after an objection to the commission over the decision of the presidential debates to be on a virtual format to switch because the President has signed Covid-19.

Around 73 million viewers watched the first debate, and while the second presidential debates rarely surpass the first debates, the audience probably wouldn’t have been much smaller. As a result, both candidates missed the opportunity to make their respective messages available to a much larger segment of the American public.