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 13.1 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.
And Biden’s allies wondered if Trump would react angrily.
Leading up to Thursday night, the Trump campaign picked up the popular review narrative and predicted that Trump would outperform Biden. Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller said, “We̵
The Nielsen ratings only measure viewership on television sets. Both town halls were also broadcast live on phones, computers and other devices.
However, there is no industry standard to measure the different types of town halls transmission. Either way, it would be like trying to combine apples and oranges. With the apples between the two candidates, Biden had the better night.
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.
After the Nielsen ratings for the town halls were released on Friday, Miller tweeted a Trump fan who tried to combine TV and YouTube data to portray Trump as the real winner. But that’s apples and oranges again, as a minute or two of YouTube viewers on demand doesn’t compare to 60 minutes of television viewers.
The Biden event actually lasted two hours, including coverage after City Hall, while the Trump event lasted an hour.
Biden City Hall was also scheduled first – the same day Trump pulled out of a planned presidential debate. Trump rejected the “virtual” format imposed by the Debate Commission as a result of his coronavirus infection. So Biden’s campaign instead agreed to a Philadelphia City Hall on ABC, following in the footsteps of Trump, who was on ABC on September 15.
The Trump campaign sought its own replacement for debate and reached an agreement with NBC on a city hall in Miami, just like the one Biden had made with NBC on October 5th.
While Trump was runner-up in the evaluation race, it’s still noteworthy that he hit an audience of 13 million viewers on television, as he usually reaches a much narrower audience when he calls Fox News and other targeted media.
His hour with Guthrie and a group of voters in Florida was a rare opportunity for him to speak well beyond his base.