Trump’s City Hall was broadcast on two of NBC’s cable channels, MSNBC and CNBC, simultaneously, but even when those channels are included in the total, Biden – on just one network – still prevailed.
Trump City Hall averaged 10.6 million viewers on the NBC broadcast network. Trump reached 1.74 million viewers on MSNBC and about 671,000 viewers on CNBC. Trump’s gross audience on the three channels was 13 million, about a million less than Biden’s audience on ABC alone.
ABC News staff, to their surprise, admitted privately when the preliminary ratings were received on Friday.
The Nielsen ratings only measure viewership on televisions. Both town halls were also broadcast live on phones, computers and other devices.
In the lead up to Thursday night, the Biden campaign picked up the popular rating narrative and predicted that Trump would outperform Biden. Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller said, “We’re going to have a much bigger audience than Joe.”
Trump has been a Nielsen connoisseur for decades. While hosting “The Apprentice” on NBC, he paid close attention to the performance of his show and routinely exaggerated its success. During his years at the White House, he has continued to focus on TV ratings and has frequently complimented Fox News on its ratings.
There is no industry standard for measuring the different types of town hall broadcasts, both live and on-demand. Either way, it would be like trying to combine apples and oranges. With the apples between the two candidates, Biden had the better night.
Although Biden comes as a surprise to many media and political observers, his rating has been palpable for months.
When Trump attended a town hall on ABC last month, the event averaged 3.8 million viewers.
When Biden held a town hall on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC last week, it averaged 6.7 million viewers.