There have now been (at least) four presidential primary debates. Three for the GOP and one for the DEMs. Fox hosted one of these debates, and CNN took two of the others. The fourth went to CNBC, an established network with an opportunity to shine. Unfortunately for both the network and its viewers, they are largely considered to have wasted the opportunity.
According to reports, CNBC’s Republican primary debate averaged 14 million viewers. The numbers set a new record for the news channel. The previous best came during the winter Olympics in 2002 when CNBC scored 3.9 million viewers. Still, the network really had no reason to celebrate. Their Biggest Night Ever fell woefully short of previous numbers enjoyed by their competition. In the first debate, FOX scored a huge number – 24 million viewers. The second, and first CNN-hosted debate did nearly as well – 23 million viewers.
CNBC might counter that 14 million is almost five times what typical GOP debates garner – 3 to 5 million at this point in the contest. Sure, none of the networks can take too much credit for the massive rating spike – they can thank Donald Trump for that – but there is a reason even The Donald couldn’t help CNBC compete.
The network would like you to believe the competition – game two of the World Series – is the reason for the missing viewers. But, let’s face it, can the Series shoulder all the blame for a TEN MILLION shortfall?
The main reason for the drop seems to be the moderators. Both the debaters and the viewers openly hated the moderators. It was more than frustration with tough questions. Viewers criticized the moderators for lack of preparation and conducting themselves poorly during the debate. Having watched it, those critiques are hard to negate.
The ratings agree. While the debate began at 8 p.m., viewership peaked around 9. After that, most folks found something else to do with their time.
Roman Temkin is a mobile entrepreneur with a background in real estate development.