The Trump town hall was merged with two of NBC’s cable channels, MSNBC and CNBC, but even if those channels were included as a whole, Biden – in just one network – still prevailed.
Trump’s town hall averaged 10.6 million viewers on NBC’s broadcast network. On MSNBC, Trump reached 1.74 million viewers, and on CNBC, approximately 671,000 viewers. So Trump’s total audience on the three channels is 13 million, nearly a million fewer than Biden’s audience on ABC alone.
ABC News staffers privately admitted that they were surprised when the initial rating arrived on Friday.
Nielsen ratings only measure viewing on TV sets. Both town halls are also live-streamed on phones, computers and other devices.
Beginning Thursday night, Biden’s campaign accepted the popular narrative of ratings and predicted Trump would pass Biden. Trump̵7;s senior campaign adviser Jason Miller said “we will have a bigger audience than Joe.”
Trump has been Nielsen’s adviser for decades. While hosting “The Apprentice” on NBC, he paid attention to the performance of his show and always magnified its success. He continued to focus on TV ratings during his years in the White House and often congratulated Fox News for rating achievements.
There is no industry standard to measure all the different ways town halls are streamed, both live and on-demand. In any event, that would be like trying to combine apples and oranges. With apples to apples matching between the two candidates, Biden had a better night.
While surprising to many media and political observers, the strength of Biden’s ratings has been witnessed for months.
When Trump participated in 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.