HomeNewsPresidential Debate 2020: TV Ratings Take Major Dip Compared to First Debate

Presidential Debate 2020: TV Ratings Take Major Dip Compared to First Debate

by Jon D. B.
(Photo credit: Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)

The final Presidential Debate of the 2020 election took a big dip in ratings comparatively, with Fox News pulling in 14.8 million viewers.

In what was the final faceoff between Joe Biden and President Trump, the ratings took a severe dive. The Nielsen ratings network puts the numbers for this last debate at 55.2 million total viewers across broadcast and cable networks.

This matchup, noticeably different in tone than the first go-round, was the one to watch, however. With microphone restrictions in place and a new, highly-capable moderator in place, the third and final 2020 debate was surprisingly productive for both candidates.

Regardless, the Thursday debate saw a 25% drop in viewership. According to Nielsen, Fox News had the largest audience at 14.8 million. Behind them was ABC, the top-rated news broadcast, at 10.8 million. NBC, home network of moderator Kristen Welker, trailed both with 10.3 million views.

Are Voters Exhausted of Both Presidential Candidates?

Although the atmosphere of the final debate was far more professional, the dip is concerning for both candidates. The September 29th debate saw over 62 millions viewers tune in across six networks. Overall, with online and streaming viewership taken into account, the first debate had an impressive 73.1 million eyes onboard.

With town halls streaming instead of a “virtual debate” that Trump refused, and both candidates constantly in the news – are voters already completely exhausted of their 2020 candidates? The numbers seem to imply so.

When comparing to previous debates, the starting faceoff between Trump and Hillary Clinton last election season brought in 84 million viewers. The second showed a similar dip, however, down over 20% to 66 million. The third, though, did net almost 72 million. Perhaps political fatigue is true across the board, regardless of candidates & year.

In turn, the singular vice presidential debate between VP Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris, saw 58 million viewers this same month.

States, however, are showing record-numbers of registered voters. Southern states like Georgia and Tennessee have more registered voters now than they have at any previous time in U.S. history.

If anything, it seems voters already have their minds made up. And no debate – first or third – is going to sway them.