Trump loses to Biden in town hall TV ratings war despite being shown on two more networks

Defeat will likely enrage US president who has long obsessed over media popularity

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 17 October 2020 11:43
Comments
Trump refuses to condemn QAnon saying they care very strongly about paedophilia

Donald Trump has lost his latest TV ratings war with Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who amassed around 600,000 more viewers than the US president during their competing town halls earlier this week.

The lagging ratings will come as a blow to Mr Trump, who has long obsessed over his own popularity and has regularly weaponised the supposedly poor TV ratings of other media figures to mock them on social media.

In total, Mr Trump reached 13.5 million people across three networks – NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC – between 8pm and 9pm on Thursday, comfortably less than Mr Biden’s 14.1 million on  ABC at the same time, according to data firm Nielsen.

ABC officials privately expressed surprise at the victory, according to CNN, following widely held expectations in the TV world Mr Trump’s more free-wheeling and confrontational approach would attract a larger audience.

“Turns out more people last night were interested in watching a leader with a clear plan to get this pandemic under control and Americans back to work, than the same combative, chaotic liar whose incompetence got us into this mess — regardless of how many channels he was on," tweeted the Biden campaign’s press secretary TJ Ducklo.

Nielsen’s TV ratings only measure viewership on TV sets and do not include live streams to phones, laptops and other devices. Both ABC and NBC self-reported healthy online viewership.

Mr Trump has yet to comment on his defeat, but after Mr Biden’s convention speech earlier this year received a larger TV audience that Mr Trump’s own Republican address, the US president complained that such “Online Streaming Numbers” were not included.

Thursday evening was initially penned in as the date of the second presidential debate, but it was cancelled by the independent commission after Mr Trump refused to conduct it virtually following his positive test for coronavirus.

Mr Biden subsequently decided to do a town hall on ABC instead, before NBC, in a much-criticised move, agreed to let Mr Trump have his own event at the same time.

While Mr Biden outperformed his Republican rival in viewing figures, Mr Trump made global headlines for a rambling performance in which he appeared to defend the baseless conspiracy theory QAnon and dodged questions about whether he received a Covid-19 test on the day of the first presidential debate.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in