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Biden tops Trump for town hall television ratings

Oct 16, 2020
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Joe Biden bested Donald Trump on Thursday night in a category sure to grab the president’s attention: television ratings.

Figures released Friday from Nielsen show that Biden’s town hall on ABC averaged 13.9 million viewers, while Trump’s averaged 10.6 million on NBC. But even when viewership figures are added for MSNBC and CNBC, cable networks owned by NBC that also carried Trump’s town hall, the president’s total viewership was 13 million, lower than Biden’s.

Trump has long touted his ability to generate impressive television ratings as a sign of his popularity with the American public. Following his first presidential debate with Biden, for instance, Trump asserted that he had, in fact, won the war for eyeballs.

In July, when Trump announced he would resume his starring role at televised briefings of the coronavirus task force, he explained that one reason for doing so was that they received good ratings.

“Well, we had very successful briefings,” Trump told reporters. “I was doing them and we had a lot of people watching. Record numbers watching. In the history of cable television, there’s never been anything like it.”

ABC NEWS - 10/15/20 ABC News will host a town hall with Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, October 15, 2020 in Philadelphia. The primetime event , "The Vice President and the People" will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos and will allow voters to ask questions of the candidate. The live, 90-minute special edition of 20/20 airs on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.(Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) JOE BIDENABC NEWS - 10/15/20 ABC News will host a town hall with Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday, October 15, 2020 in Philadelphia. The primetime event , "The Vice President and the People" will be moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos and will allow voters to ask questions of the candidate. The live, 90-minute special edition of 20/20 airs on ABC at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.(Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images) JOE BIDEN
Joe Biden at an ABC town hall with voters on Thursday. (Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)

Ahead of Thursday’s dueling town halls, which came about after the president declined to participate in a virtual debate with Biden, Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller predicted that “we’re gonna have a much bigger audience than Joe.”

The Nielsen numbers do not tally the number of people who watched the town halls online, After he got word that Biden’s speech at the Democratic National Convention had been watched by more television viewers than his at the Republican National Convention, Trump claimed that he had still won the war for eyeballs.

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