No one was happy with NBC’s decision to air a Donald Trump town hall opposite Joe Biden’s town hall, which aired on ABC last night (October 15), but we all know that the only thing Trump himself cares about in this situation is who won the ratings.
NBC had several disadvantages, and advantages, to viewership. The disadvantages were the massive calls for network boycotts by celebrities and social media users disappointed in the network’s decision for placing the town hall in the same time slot as Biden’s. But that boycott was a bit like preaching to the choir, and we all know that those pleas wouldn’t change the minds of Trump fans who won’t be swayed by Hollywood elites. Another disadvantage was… youths. It was reported across social media that TikTok users were encouraging one another to watch the Biden town hall on ABC on every available device they could to boost Biden’s ratings.
However, the main advantage NBC had in this whole matter was Trump himself. The more volatile and erratic his behavior, the more likely people are to want to see it, unlike Biden’s more measured and calm approach. Moderator and NBC host Savannah Guthrie may have created a ratings draw, too, when she lobbed hardball questions at Trump and suggested the Trump was America’s crazy uncle (by saying that he wasn’t our crazy uncle, but we gotchu, Savannah, we know you meant the opposite of what you were saying, wink wink). So with all of these factors at play, how did the ratings shake out?
According to early numbers broken down by Variety, Biden drew 12.7 million viewers from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. On NBC, Trump got 10.4 million viewers in the same time slot.
Online, it also appears that Biden won out on YouTube. The NBC News YouTube channel had 153,660 viewers watching concurrently as the Trump town hall wrapped. Biden’s town hall, which ran for an additional 30 minutes showed 507,445 concurrent viewers watching at the end of Biden’s town hall on ABC News’s YouTube channel.
A few factors to consider as these numbers continue to trickle in: Biden’s town hall was 90 minutes, as opposed to Trump’s 60 minutes; and Trump’s was simulcast across NBC’s cable networks, MSNBC and CNBC, whose ratings have not yet been reported. We’ll update this story as the match-up continues.
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