NBC and other news organizations were quick to share dramatic headlines about the Democratic presidential debates this week, announcing that one of broadcasts had “shattered” the previous Democratic ratings record for such an event.
On Thursday, 18.1 million viewers tuned in to see the 10 hopefuls spar with one another across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.
Fox News, however, holds the all-time ratings record not only for a political broadcast like a debate — but for cable news in general.
The first GOP presidential debate on Aug. 5, 2015, featured the star power of then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump. It hosted was by a Fox News team that included then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
This GOP debate drew an unprecedented 24 million viewers — emerging as the highest-rated debate of all time — and also the highest-rated cable news program in history.
Many viewers remember that Ms. Kelly challenged Mr. Trump in a combative discussion which led to a feud between the two, which was ultimately resolved a few months later.
“You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals,” Ms. Kelly said.
“Only Rosie O’Donnell,” Mr. Trump replied, not missing a beat.
“For the record, it was well beyond Rosie O’Donnell,” Ms. Kelly replied.
“Yes, I’m sure it was,” Mr. Trump responded.
In the meantime, Fox News remains the most-watched cable network of all for the 24th week in a row according to Nielsen ratings, trumping competition that includes non-news rivals such as HGTV and ESPN.
Fox News also remains the most popular cable news channel, as it has for more than 17 years straight: Fox News draws 2.6 million prime-time viewers, MSNBC 1.5 million and CNN 853,000. In addition, Fox also garnered 5 million viewers during President Trump’s 2020 recent campaign launch.