It's Official: Big Bird Was the Star of the First Presidential Debate (Video)

4:37 PM PST 10/04/2012 by Paul Bond

The GOP candidate's promise to cut off taxpayer money to PBS was rewound and rewatched more than any other in Wednesday's telecast.

We now have proof that Big Bird was a huge hit during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, even though the giant yellow creature from Sesame Street didn't actually attend the proceedings.

When GOP candidate Mitt Romney said he would yank taxpayer money from PBS, even though he loves Big Bird, more TiVo users rewound and rewatched that moment than any other in the debate.

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“I’m sorry Jim, I’m gonna stop the subsidy to PBS,” Romney told debate moderator Jim Lehrer, who is executive editor for PBS NewsHour. “I like PBS. I love Big Bird. I actually like you, too. But I’m not gonna keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for it.”

See video below.

To gather the data, said senior vp Tara Maitra, TiVo takes an anonymous viewing sample from its users -- down to the secon -- in order to determine viewing behavior, including by political affiliation.

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TiVo reported two moments in particular where viewer preferences varied according to their politics:

  1. Viewers of the Fox News Channel, who lean primarily Republican, watched Romney deliver the line, “I have a friend who says that you don’t just pick the winners and losers, you pick the losers,” far more than did viewers of MSNBC, who lean primarily Democratic.
  2. Those who watched MSNBC, on the other hand, viewed President Barack Obama talking about his grandmother more so than did FNC viewers. “She had worked all her life,” Obama said, “put in this money and understood that there was was a basic guarantee. A floor under which she could not go.”

Email: Paul.Bond@thr.com

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