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News Organizations Cover the Third Presidential Debate

The Nielsen Company
October 20, 2016

Third Presidential Debate of 2016 Draws 71.6 Million Viewers

An estimated 71.6 million people tuned in to watch the final debate of the 2016 presidential election on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. The debate was hosted at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and featured Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

While coverage varied by network, 12 aired live coverage from approximately 9:00 p.m. ET to 10:30 p.m. ET. The debate was also on tape delay on Azteca.

In terms of the social nature of the debate, there were 53.2 million social media interactions across Facebook and Twitter from 16.9 million people in the U.S. related to the "Presidential Debate" on Wednesday, Oct. 19 2016, according to Nielsen.

  • Activity for the TV event peaked between 10:15 p.m. ET and 10:29 p.m. ET when 4.6 million interactions occurred as the candidates discussed their fitness to be president, if they would accept the outcome of the election, and foreign hotspots.
  • Each person Tweeting about the debate interacted seven times on average. "Trump" was mentioned in 3.9 million Tweets, while "Hillary" was mentioned in 1.9 million Tweets.
  • There were 41.5 million interactions on Facebook about the event: 62% of people who interacted with the debate on Facebook were female and 40% were under the age of 35.

The chart below highlights the sum of the average audience for these networks.

2016 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day

  Sept. 26, 2016 Oct. 9, 2016 Oct. 19, 2016
  Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers
All Households 47.6 56,371,000 37.1 43,981,000 41.7 49,533,000
Persons 2+ 27.8 84,011,000 22.1 66,548,000 23.8 71,562,000
Persons 18-34 18.2 12,753,000 15.4 10,659,000 14.8 10,329,000
Persons 35-54 31.6 25,318,000 23.9 19,108,000 26.5 21,123,000
Persons 55+ 45.2 39,988,000 36.7 32,570,000 39.8 35,407,000
Source: Nielsen

2016 Networks Included:

Debate 1 – ABC, CBS, FOX, UNI, NBC, TEL, AZA, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC, and MSNBC
Debate 2 – ABC, CBS, FOX, AZA, UNI, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC, and MSNBC
Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, AZA*, UNI, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, FOXNC, and MSNBC
*Tape delay

NOTE: Data above is inclusive of broadcast and cable networks, as well as PBS member stations. Common coverage of ad-supported networks only was 68.9 million viewers P2+.

2012 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day

  Oct. 3, 2012 Oct. 16, 2012 Oct. 22, 2012
  Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers Rating No. of Viewers
2+ 23.1




20.5 59,235,000

2012 Networks Included:

Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC

October 20, 2016

8.7 Million Watch the Final Presidential Debate on CNN

Tops MSNBC in all Demos

CNN #1 in Cable News During Post-Debate Coverage in Total Viewers and Demos

1.9 Million Live Streams on CNN Digital

CNN easily topped MSNBC during the final presidential commission debate last night in both total viewers and adults 25-54 according to Nielsen Fast National data*.  CNN ranked #1 in cable news among millennials.  Last night’s debate was moderated by Fox News Channel anchor Chris Wallace.

CNN:             8.712m P2+ / 3.462m adults 25-54 / 1.642m among 18-34

MSNBC:        5.517m P2+ / 1.801m adults 25-54 / 604k among 18-34

FNC:             11.349m P2+ / 3.500m adults 25-54 / 1.117m among 18-34

*Numbers could change when final program data is released at 4pm today.

During the post-debate coverage block (10:30p-1:00a), CNN was #1 in cable news among total viewers with 5.031 million, Fox News followed with 4.873 million and MSNBC was third with 3.820 million.  In the key demo adults 25-54, CNN outperformed the competition with 2.008 million, Fox News was second with 1.493 million and MSNBC lagged behind with 1.162 million.  And among millennials (18-34), CNN was top-rated during post-debate coverage with 727k, Fox News had 431k and MSNBC averaged 316k.

CNN Digital’s live stream of the final debate of the 2016 campaign saw 1.9 million live starts on, CNNgo and mobile apps. On debate day, CNN Digital also saw more than 16 million unique multiplatform visitors and 15 million video starts across desktop and mobile devices. On average the three 2016 presidential debates far outpaced all other presidential debates on record across metrics.



Cox Business
October 14, 2016

Cox Business Connects UNLV Media Center for Presidential Debate

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 14, 2016 - Cox Business is powering the temporary media center for the presidential debate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on Oct. 19. Cox will provide telephone service, a massive back-up internet connection as well as cable and broadcast channels for use in the Cox Pavilion, a multi-purpose indoor arena and site of the media center. Services will also be provided to the adjacent 18,000 seat Thomas & Mack Center, site of the presidential debate, and Mendenhall Center, a basketball practice facility attached to the Cox Pavilion to be used for food service.

“We’re pleased that UNLV has selected Cox Business to provide critical technology services in support of this third and final presidential debate,” said Derrick Hill, vice president of Cox Business Las Vegas. “We realize that with the world watching, reliable communications infrastructure is an absolute must. Our experience, enterprise-grade services and professional support can meet these customer demands at the highest level.”

“As a major urban research university, UNLV keeps thousands of faculty, staff, students and visitors connected every day,” said Gerry Bomotti, senior vice president of finance and business. “Over the next week, thousands of national and international journalists will be on campus for the final presidential debate and utilize the upgraded service to file their stories around the globe.”

The technology company has installed 500 lines of digital telephone service available at the Thomas & Mack Center, Cox Pavilion, Mendenhall Center and outside media trailers. The service will be provided through Cox Business IP Centrex, an advanced, cloud-based hosted telephone system with business-grade voice service.

Cox Business is also providing UNLV with a temporary, redundant 10-gigabit fiber-optic connection to help ensure internet connectivity for the media corps, vendors and guests.

The UNLV debate facilities will also have access to a customized tier of 20 high-definition cable channels and affiliate broadcasters made available on nearly 200 television monitors throughout. Included among these are BBC America, CNN, CNN en Español, C-SPAN, CNBC, Fox Business, News, Fox News Network, HLN as well as other providers on the Cox cable line-up. Local broadcast affiliates are also included in addition to the live debate feed.

Cox has provided video services to UNLV for nearly 20 years and was recently selected to expand the campus’ Wi-Fi network to include 3,258 access points.

About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet, telephone and home security and automation services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable company, Cox serves approximately 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and digital media advertising. Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in broadband, voice and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For nine years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity 11 times. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at and