Trump-Biden Audience Plummets 14% in Second, Subdued Debate

The final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign attracted 63 million viewers, a 14% decline from Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s first matchup.

The total from Thursday night was far below the 73.1 million who tuned in to watch the initial debate between the two candidates on Sept. 29, according to Nielsen data.

Fox Corp.’s namesake news channel said it was No. 1 overall with 15.4 million viewers. Walt Disney Co.’s ABC said it was first among the broadcast networks with 11.2 million.

Trump-Biden Audience Plummets 14% in Second, Subdued Debate

Thursday’s debate, held in Nashville, Tennessee, and moderated by NBC’s Kristen Welker, was a more subdued affair than the first one, where the candidates often interrupted each other.

A second contest, originally scheduled for Oct. 15, was canceled after Trump contracted the coronavirus and refused to appear in a virtual matchup.

Last night’s debate also took place against the backdrop of far more early voting this year. Over 47 million Americans have already had cast ballots, or more than a third of the 2016 total. In addition, the telecast was competing for viewers with the regular Thursday-night football game on the Fox broadcast channel.

The candidates entered Thursday’s event under different terms than last month. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates ruled that each candidate would have his microphone muted at the start of their rival’s initial responses to a topic. Going into the contest, Trump said the new rules were unfair.

The most-watched debate in recent history was the first matchup between Trump and Hillary Clinton in 2016. It garnered 84 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

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