TV Ratings: New York Democratic Debate Draws 5.6 Million

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The final face-off between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before the April 19 New York primary was marked by jabs about Wall Street, gun control and the Iraq War.

The final debate between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before the critical New York primary on April 19 was watched by 5.6 million viewers on CNN and NY1. CNN had the lion’s share of viewers with 5.4 million, while 171,000 watched on Time Warner Cable-owned NY1. Among news' target demographic of 25-54-year-olds, CNN pulled in 1.7 million.

It was enough to make CNN the No. 1 cable-news network in primetime on Thursday night, with an average of 4.14 million viewers between 8-11 p.m., followed by Fox News Channel (2.4 million) and MSNBC (748,000); the latter hosted a town hall with Republican candidate Ted Cruz. Among adults 25-54, CNN had 1.3 million, Fox News followed with 409,000, and MSNBC had 211,000.

It was among the most contentious face-offs between the two Democratic presidential hopefuls, with Sanders and CNN moderator Dana Bash challenging Clinton to release the transcripts of her closed-door speeches at Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, which paid her nearly $700,000 for multiple speeches. Clinton attempted to deflect by challenging Sanders to release his tax returns. But the Vermont senator neutralized Clinton's attempted counterpunch by promising to release his 2014 returns today. And he twisted the knife by noting that not only were his tax returns "very boring," with "no big money from speeches" and "no major investments," but that his wife, Jane O'Meara, files their taxes, and they've "been a little bit busy lately."

It was one exchange in a night of memorable and caustic exchanges in front of an audibly pro-Sanders crowd at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, mere miles from where Sanders grew up in the borough's Flatbush neighborhood. The candidates have, at this point, shed the collegial tone that marked their early primary debates and now have sparred on everything from gun control to climate change to the Iraq War. And it was a critical outing for both candidates, as Clinton is working to regain momentum after a series of losses, and Sanders is looking at his best and perhaps last chance of becoming a real contender in the Democratic presidential primary.

The previous debate between Clinton and Sanders on March 9 in Flint, Mich., averaged 5.95 million viewers on CNN and Univision.

See below for the increasingly long rundown of debate audiences to date.

RNC

Aug. 6 — 24 million (FNC)
Sept. 16 — 23 million (CNN)
Oct. 28 — 14 million (CNBC)
Nov. 10 — 13.5 million (FBN)
Dec. 15 — 18.2 million (CNN)
Jan. 14 — 11.1 million (FBN)
Jan. 28 — 12.5 million (FNC)
Feb. 6 — 13.2 million (ABC)
Feb. 13 — 13.5 million (CBS)
Feb. 25 — 14.5 million (CNN/Telemundo)
March 3 — 16.9 million (FNC)

DNC

Oct. 13 — 15.8 million (CNN)
Nov. 14 — 8.6 million (CBS)
Dec. 19 — 8.0 million (ABC)
Jan. 17 — 10.2 million (NBC)
Feb. 4 — 4.5 million (MSNBC)
Feb. 11 — 8.0 million (PBS/CNN)
March 6 — 5.5 million (CNN)
March 9 — 5.9 million (CNN, Univision)

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