Trump City Hall was simultaneously broadcast on two of NBC’s cable channels, MSNBC and CNBC, but even when those channels were included in the total, Biden – in only one network – still prevailed.
Trump City Hall has an average of 10.6 million viewers on NBC. On MSNBC, Trump reached 1.74 million viewers, and on CNBC about 671,000 viewers. Thus, Trump’s gross audience on the three channels was 13.1 million, about one million less than Biden’s audience on ABC alone.
ABC News employees privately admitted their surprise when preliminary ratings came in on Friday.
And Biden’s allies wondered if Trump would react angrily.
On Thursday night, Trump̵
Nielsen ratings only measure TV viewership. Both town halls were broadcast live to telephones, computers and other devices.
But there is no industry standard that measures all the different ways of flowing in town halls. In any case, it would be like trying to combine apples and oranges. In the match between the apples and the apples, Biden had a better night.
Trump has known Nielsen for decades. While running “The Apprentice” on NBC, he paid close attention to the performance of his show and routinely exaggerated its success. He continued to focus on television ratings during his years at the White House and often congratulated Fox News on his ratings victories.
After Nielsen’s ratings for town halls came out on Friday, Miller retweeted a Trump fan who tried to combine data from television and YouTube to portray Trump as a real winner. But again, these are apples and oranges, because a minute or two of YouTube viewing on demand is not comparable to 60 minutes of watching TV.
Biden’s event actually lasted for two hours, including coverage at City Hall, while Trump’s event lasted one hour.
Biden City Hall was scheduled first, the same day Trump dropped the planned presidential debate. Trump objected to the “virtual” format that was imposed by the debate committee as a result of his coronavirus infection. So Biden’s campaign agreed instead to take ABC’s Philadelphia mayoralty, following in the footsteps of Trump, who was on ABC on September 15.
Trump’s campaign sought to replace its debate and reached an agreement with NBC for a city hall in Miami, just like Biden did with NBC on October 5.
While Trump was second in the ratings race, it is still remarkable that he reached an audience of 13 million viewers on television, as he usually reaches a much narrower audience during his conversations with Fox News and other media.
His time with Guthrie and a group of voters in Florida was a rare chance for him to speak far beyond his base.