Joe Biden's ABC News Town Hall Drew More Viewers Than Donald Trump's on NBC News, Ratings Reveal

An average of 14.1 million viewers watched Joe Biden answer questions from voters

Trump, Biden
Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images; MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Joe Biden drew more viewers than Donald Trump in Thursday night’s head-to-head town hall events, according to Nielsen’s final numbers.

An average of 14.1 million viewers tuned in to watch the Democratic presidential nominee take questions from voters on ABC News, while Trump's similar set up on NBC News brought in an average of 13.5 million, The Washington Post reports.

Though Trump's event aired simultaneously on CNBC and MSNBC, about 700,000 fewer people tuned in to watch him.

Trump's event brought an average of 1.8 million viewers on MSNBC, about 720,000 on CNBC and an average of 10.9 million on NBC, which combined make the 13.5 million average, CNN reports.

Biden surpassed that with his town hall event on only ABC. The network said it was ABC's most-watched primetime program since the Oscars, according to the Washington Post.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden (left) with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos at a town hall. JIM WATSON/Getty Images

The dueling town halls replaced what was meant to be a second presidential debate, originally scheduled for Thursday night.

The Commission on Presidential Debates canceled the event last week after Trump, 74, said he would not appear if it was held virtually.

The commission had suggested holding the second debate virtually after Trump tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier this month. He spent three days being treated for the contagious respiratory virus at the Walter Reed Medical Center before returning to the White House.

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President Donald Trump at the NBC News town hall on Thursday. CNBC

Once released from hospital care, Trump and his White House communications staff deflected on answering direct questions about his health status, including when and if he tested negative for the virus.

NBC News reported that it received a medical note from federal health officials clearing Trump for the event, though once there he similarly deflected questions from Today anchor Savannah Guthrie about his recent condition.

Biden's campaign said he would have been willing to participate in the original town hall, but set up the town hall on ABC following the cancellation of the original event.

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Savannah Guthrie at the NBC News town hall with President Donald Trump on Thursday. Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock

On Thursday, there were early signs that Biden's appearance was drawing more viewers, according to Variety, who noted the ABC News YouTube stream saw more viewers tuning in live for the Democratic nominee's town hall versus NBC News' YouTube stream with the incumbent president.

Biden, 77, stayed late after his hour-and-a-half event on ABC News ended, taking additional questions from voters.

The Democratic nominee's Q&A event was hosted by ABC host George Stephanopoulos and covered Biden's policy stances on such issues as COVID-19, race, and the Supreme Court.

The two candidates are set to face-off in person one final time next Thursday in a debate hosted by NBC News correspondent Kristen Welker.

The Oct. 22 debate in Nashville, Tenn., will cover topics such as “Fighting COVID-19,” "American Families,” “Race in America,” “Climate Change,” “National Security,” “ and “Leadership,” the debate commission announced Friday.

Updated by Cher
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