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47.9 million viewers tuned in to CNN’s presidential debate with Biden and Trump

CNN  —  CNN’s Thursday night debate between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump was watched by 47.9 million viewers on television, according to preliminary figures from Nielsen. The 90-minute debate, which sent shockwaves through the political world, was simulcast across 22 networks. CNN, which hosted the debate from its Atlanta studios, offered a live feed of the telecast to any network free of charge but with strict conditions over its presentation and branding. On television, CNN drew 9.04 million viewers across its flagship channel, CNN Espanol and HLN, the network said Friday. The right-wing talk channel Fox News drew 8.8 million viewers, ABC News saw 8.7 million viewers and MSNBC drew 3.968 million viewers. Of the 8.7 million viewers who watched the debate on CNN’s primary channel, 3 million were among the advertiser coveted 25-54 age demographic. CNN said the event generated more than 30 million views on its digital properties and on YouTube. “Across CNN’s digital platforms, the debate was CNN’s biggest debate ever and tied with our biggest live stream event ever with 2.3 million concurrent live views at 9:47 p.m,” the network said. The telecast also drew the largest audience on record for CNN on the Max streaming service, though the network did not disclose audience figures. Four years ago, more than 73 million people watched the first debate between Trump and Biden across all television networks, a decline from the record 84 million who tuned in to the first debate matchup between Hillary Clinton and Trump in 2016. For CNN, Thursday night’s debate was a marketing coup, coming at a pivotal moment for the network as it works to reverse declining ratings and embarks on a strategy to revolutionize the four-decade-old network in the digital era. The previous most-watched program in CNN’s history occurred in 2015, when a GOP debate featuring Trump and a slew of Republican rivals averaged 23.1 million viewers.