Most Watched Debate Of All Time Indicates So Much More

The stakes are high.

Well over 80 million people tuned in to watch the presidential debate last week, making it the most watched televised debate in its 60-year history.

84 million viewers across 13 different networks made up for the unprecedented Nielson ratings with almost all viewers watching through the 98-minute debate.

The totals across networks are:

“ABC drew 13.5 million viewers, CBS drew 12.1 million, Fox News drew 11.4 million, CNN drew 9.9 million, the Fox broadcast network drew 5.5 million, and MSNBC drew 4.9 million.”

Surprisingly, this total count doesn’t even include people who watched the debate at parties, bars, restaurants, and offices.

This also doesn’t include C-SPAN viewers or live streaming.  In fact, David Folkenflik of All Things Considered noted “things get interesting” when you factor in live streaming:

“I looked at a number of outlets and their feeds on Facebook. If you look at the live streams of seven different major outlets including places like Al-Jazeera, ABC News, NowThis news, The New York Times, Univision, Fox, a couple others — that was in excess of 35 million views.


They’re not counted identically to a television viewer, but 35 million people looked at least at part of the live streams of the debate that way.


Similarly, about 5 million people looked at the live streams and streams available on YouTube. And that’s not including the individual websites as well — for example, an excess of 2.4 million people, estimated, watched in on through their free feed. So there are a lot of different ways people are approaching this now.”

The debate even broke YouTube live streaming records, which had 2 million concurrent viewers and 3 million live-watch viewers.

All in all, it was the most watched presidential debate ever, beating the 1980 Carter-Reagan debate by almost 4 million viewers, and again, that doesn’t include live streaming.  Granted, there were only 220 million citizens in the 80s and there is exactly 100 million more now.

To put these numbers in perspective, they are on par with the most watched program in American television history: the Super Bowl.

And it’s all because the anticipation swirled for weeks.

But this begs the question.  Are we about to see the biggest voter turnout in United States history also?

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton might be the most polarizing presidential candidates in U.S. election history.

On one hand you have voters who are sick to death of the current state of democracy and feel the middle class is being ignored and victimized.

On the other hand, you have upset immigrants who demand equal rights, and citizens who are fighting to elevate the progressive direction this country has been headed even more.

In 2012, during the Obama-Romney presidential election, the voting-age population was approximately 241 million and the voter turnout ended up being 130 million, which is 53.6% of the voting-age population.

The voting–age population currently is approximately 250 million people.  Several times in history, when voter turnout declined, it was when a sitting president ran against the hopeful nominee.

There was a decline between ‘92 and ‘96 under President Bill Clinton, and in 2008 and 2012 under President Barack Obama.

Neither one are sitting presidents now.  Americans are tired of the current state of Democracy and have been paying more attention to this election since 1980.

Not only are Americans paying attention, but the rest of the world is on notice as well; and consequently, Americans are growing more aware that everyone is watching our election.

Do you think the voter turnout will shatter records in November?