Well, the numbers are in, and while Tuesday night’s Vice-Presidential debate wouldn’t really be considered a dud for the networks, it still lagged far behind last week’s Presidential bout and didn’t match the ratings of the previous two election cycles.
According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, the viewership across all the different cable and broadcast network carrying the event will settle around 40 to 50 million. Therefore, even if the final numbers come in at the very high-end of that range, they will not reach the 2012 VP debate between Paul Ryan and Joe Biden, which drew 51.4 million.
And it didn’t even come close to comparing to 2008’s debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which brought in nearly 70 million viewers. Of course, that one was had America on the edge of its seat leading up to it, with everyone wondering if Palin was going to completely implode following her disastrous Katie Couric interview. In fact, as The Hollywood Reporter noted, that is the third highest rated debate of all time, VP or not.
All in all, this debate still won’t totally disappoint network execs, as tens of millions tuned in. However, with 84 million watching the Clinton-Trump event, they were likely hoping for numbers that at least eclipsed Biden-Ryan. Especially considering the crazy-ass nature of this election.
As far as individual networks, NBC came out on top, with a 4.9 rating and 11 million total viewers. ABC pulled in a 4.5 rating while CBS looks to have come in third place, despite the fact that they hosted the debate and provide its moderator, Elaine Quijano.