First GOP Presidential Primary Debate Attracts 14 Million Peak Viewers, Including Millions of Liberal Voters

The first GOP presidential primary debate of the 2024 election, held Aug. 23 in Milwaukee, generated an estimated 14.2 million viewers on Fox News at its peak, according to new data from AdImpact, which tracks data from a panel of 10 million smart TV devices.

Fox said “Democracy 24: Fox News Republican Primary Debate” notched 12.8 million viewers (citing Nielsen data) and was the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of 2023, topping “Yellowstone,” which generated 8.2 million viewers on the Paramount Network. Fox said the debate drew a larger audience than the network’s previous debate in Iowa in January 2016 without then-candidate Donald Trump, which averaged 12.5 million total viewers.

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Fox News Digital, according to Adobe Analytics, experienced a record day of engagement across its various platforms, including the Fox Nation subscription streaming service. The company’s digital properties drove an average minute audience of nearly 200,000 between 9-11 pm/EST, marking the platform’s highest day of minutes watched on the Fox News livestream this year.

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In terms of page views, Fox News Digital saw more than 125 million views for the day and during the debate, garnered more than 20 million minutes watched, with users averaging about 30 minutes per viewer. Additionally, Fox News’ livestream minutes (223%), video starts (285%) and unique viewers (205%), were all up triple digits from the average 2023 weekday.

Eight candidates took the stage last night, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former VP Mike Pence, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and current South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Other contenders included tech businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug  Burgum, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson. Former President Donald Trump skipped the debate.

Viewership peaked at 10:08 p.m. EST, around the time the debate moderators asked the candidates if they would support Trump as the party’s nominee even if he is convicted in a court of law, according to AdImpact.

When closing statements began at 10:53 pm EST, viewership ranged from 12 million to 11 million by the end of the debate. Of the TVs tuned in for at least 15 minutes, 72% watched on cable and 28% on various apps, with YouTube/YouTube TV the most prevalent.

Notably, 60% more liberal households (defined as supporting liberal causes) watched the debate than conservatives, according to Samba TV, which tracks viewership intel across 48 million connected televisions worldwide.

Samba attributed the imbalance to the fact that Trump opted out of the debate, and instead conducted a pre-taped interview with Tucker Carlson on the X (formerly Twitter) social media platform.

Despite being outnumbered in viewers, conservative households spent 3 more minutes on average watching the debate than liberal households. Of the households that watched, older (Aged 64+) households, white households, and more wealthy households (household income more than $200,000) generated the largest index in viewership.

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States that achieved the highest average minutes watched included Arkansas, Wyoming, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky, Kansas, Idaho, and Rhode Island — each with at least 81 total average minutes watched, according to Samba.

States with the highest portion of viewers among its state consisted of Wyoming and West Virginia (both states had 10% of households tune in), followed by South Carolina (9% of households), then followed by Florida, Washington D.C., Iowa, Wisconson, Nebraska, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, each with 8%.

The second Republican presidential primary debate will take place Sept. 27 on Fox  Business.

Samba TV: Slight Super Bowl LVII TV/Streaming Viewership Gain

Samba TV Feb. 13 announced that Sunday night’s Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVII saw a slight increase in combined TV/streaming viewing of about half a percentage point compared to last year’s Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals. Both games were decided in the final minutes by three points.

Based on Samba TV’s analysis of 25 million connected TVs in the U.S., 36.7 million households watched the game this year compared to 36.5 million last year. The tally does not include mobile consumption or out-of-home viewership.

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Kansas City had the highest over-indexing viewer market in the U.S., surpassing the national average by 20%; Philadelphia followed over-indexing the national average by 15%.

The halftime show featuring R&B sensation Rihanna again drew a sizeable audience, down slightly from last year’s performance. About 28.5 million households in the U.S. tuned in for the show sponsored by Apple Music, compared to the 28.7 million that tuned in for last year’s hip hop music show sponsored by Pepsi.

Samba found that Rihanna’s ability to draw in audiences reached well beyond football fans as more than 1 million households only tuned into the game when the nine-time Grammy winner’s halftime show began.

“Rihanna’s star power has only continued to grow since her last tour and album release more than half a decade ago,” Samba TV founder/CEO Ashwin Navin said in a statement.

‘The Last of Us’ Draws Second-Highest HBO Max Series Debut Viewership

The series premiere of original episodic program “The Last of Us” generated more than 4.7 million U.S. viewers across linear and HBO Max platforms on Jan. 15, based on Nielsen and first-party data. This is HBO’s second-largest debut, behind only “House of the Dragon,” since “Boardwalk Empire” premiered on the network in 2010, before HBO programming was broadly available on a streaming app.

Sunday night’s viewership was nearly double the season two debut night for “Euphoria,” which went on to average 19.5 million viewers per episode in the United States. Sunday night viewership for an HBO series typically represents 20% to 40% of the show’s total gross audience per episode.

The series was also a hit on social media, trending No. 1 both in the United States and worldwide on Twitter Sunday night. To date, season one teasers and trailers have amassed more than 100 million views globally. Additionally, the first episode of the series’ companion podcast hit No. 1 on Apple’s TV & Film chart in the United States within 24 hours of its release.

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“We are thrilled to see fans of the series and [2013] video game alike experience this story in a new way, and we extend our gratitude to them for helping to make it a success,” Casey Bloys, chairman and CEO of HBO and HBO Max Content, said in a statement.

With a 99% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes, “The Last of Us” showcases a smuggler (“Mandalorian” lead Pedro Pascal) leading a teenager (Bella Ramsey) through post-apocalyptic America.

New episodes debut each Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and on HBO Max, leading up to the finale on March 12. ‘The Last of Us’ Podcast  features host Troy Baker, who plays Joel in the video game, discussing the show with series creators Craig Mazin (Emmy-winning creator of HBO’s “Chernobyl”) and Neil Druckmann, the creator of the video game, for a scene-by-scene deep dive of each episode.

A new spotlight page for series is now live on Max, featuring behind-the-scenes content and access to the companion podcast, as well as an interactive flashlight to help fans find their next series to watch. The spotlight page also showcases a curated selection of movies and series from 2003, the year the life-altering outbreak occurred in the new HBO series.

HBO: ‘Watchmen’ Series Premiere Topped 1.5 Million Households

HBO’s new series “Watchmen,” based in part on the graphic novel and 2009 Warner Bros./Paramount movie, drew an average of 1.5 million households across pay-TV, the HBO Now streaming and the HBO Go on-demand VOD service.

The WarnerMedia property, which will showcase a branded HBO Max subscription streaming VOD service in early 2020, said the initial pay-TV broadcast attracted more than 800,000 viewers.

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HBO claimed the viewership data was the strongest for an original premiere episode since the “Westworld” debut in 2016.

The series, which air Sundays at 9 p.m., features Jeremy Irons, Regina King, Jean Smart, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Frances Fisher and Sara Vickers, among others.