TV Ratings: Latest Dem Debate Rises in Sunday Move, Averages 10.2 Million Viewers

Democratic Debate January 17 - H 2016

Are you ready for some... politics?

NBC's quest for a post-Sunday Night Football crowd continued this weekend with the fourth showdown between democratic presidential candidates. After two months speaking to a small crowd on Saturdays, with debates on CBS and ABC, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley finally got a decent night of the week for a match-up.

Naturally, the three-way debate didn't rival recent showings by the crowded Republican playing field. Ahead of time-zone-adjusted Fast National returns from Nielsen, the two-hour debate scored a 7.1 overnight rating among households and 10.2 million Viewers for NBC. The last Dem debate averaged a 6.1 household rating, and that ultimately translated to 7.9 million viewers.

The debate, a partnership with YouTube, fetched a total 12.5 million viewers with all platforms taken into account.

It bucks the downward ratings trajectory for the democrats, but it hardly approaches the personal best set by the first outing. CNN's October showdown, which had a Tuesday showcase, averaged 15.3 million viewers. The debate likely would have seen a stronger crowd if it had aired on CBS. The other Big Four net had the benefit of airing Sunday's later NFL playoff game. The Steelers-Broncos game averaged an astounding 43 million viewers, just shy of an all-time record for a AFC divisional playoff.

Unlike the Republicans, whose 12-debate schedule is starting to resemble some sort of combative purgatory, the Dems are almost done. Only two debates remain, one on PBS (February) and another on Univision (March).

Elsewhere, it was a very good night to be CBS. With its NFL lead-in, 60 Minutes shot to a 4.7 rating among adults 18-49 and 20.3 million viewers. Madam Secretary (2.0 adults) and The Good Wife (1.3 adults) also surged with the boost — though those numbers are all subject to adjustment.