Nielsen: CNN’s GOP Debate the Most-Watched Program of the Week, Trounces NFL Football and Adele Special

Donald Trump at CNN GOP Debate (Ethan Miller / Getty)
Ethan Miller / Getty

The CNN Republican presidential debate on December 15 was the third most-watched primary debate ever and was the highest-rated program of the week, attracting a larger audience than Sunday Night Football.

The Nielsen ratings company has released numbers for the week of Dec. 14-20. According to ratings, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is still attracting record viewers, while the year-end Democratic debate on ABC was beaten out by an episode of NCIS: New Orleans.

CNN’s GOP primary debate in Las Vegas, Nevada, drew in 18.17 million viewers and edged out NBC’s Sunday NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles. The game, which Arizona won handily 40-17, placed second with 18.11 million viewers.

In contrast to that, ABC’s Dec. 19 Democratic presidential debate in New Hampshire registered outside the top 10, attracting only eight million viewers. However, the debate did outperform an episode of Undercover Boss on CBS.

Meanwhile, CNN’s pre-debate coverage of the Republican debate on Tuesday attracted an audience of 15.38 million.

The August FOX News GOP debate in Ohio remains the highest-rated primary debate of all-time, with 24 million viewers.

The week’s ten most-watched programs were:

  1. Nevada GOP Debate, CNN, 18.17 million
  2. NFL Football: Arizona at Philadelphia, NBC, 18.11 million
  3. The Big Bang Theory, CBS, 17.23 million
  4. NCIS, CBS, 15.53 million
  5. Nevada GOP Debate (Introduction), CNN, 15.38 million
  6. The Voice (Monday), NBC, 14.03 million
  7. Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,’ NBC, 13.44 million
  8. 60 Minutes, CBS, 12.70 million
  9. The Voice (Tuesday), NBC, 12.69 million
  10. NCIS: New Orleans, CBS, 12.09 million

NBC’s Adele Live in New York came in at 11th for the week, with 11.27 million viewers.


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