Fox News’ Iowa Town Hall with Trump Surpasses CNN’s Republican Debate in Viewership
In a remarkable display of viewership strength, a town hall featuring former President Donald Trump on Fox News eclipsed the ratings of the fifth Republican presidential primary debate, which aired simultaneously on CNN. The Fox News town hall, showcasing Trump, attracted an impressive average of 4.3 million viewers during the 9-10 p.m. slot. This performance was based on early data provided by Nielsen Media Research.
Comparatively, the CNN debate, which spotlighted Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, drew an average of 2.5 million viewers in the same hour. While CNN’s figures more than doubled their usual prime-time weeknight viewership, they still fell short of the 4 million viewers who tuned in for the fourth debate on NewsNation last month.
Fox News and Fox Business previously aired the first two Republican debates, attracting a substantial audience of 12.8 million and 9 million viewers, respectively. The third debate, aired on NBC, garnered an audience of 7 million.
These latest ratings underscore the significant draw of live events featuring Trump for cable news channels, which are currently navigating challenges such as increased cord-cutting and evolving media consumption habits.
A previous CNN town hall with Trump also performed exceptionally well, drawing over 3 million viewers, marking it as the network’s highest-rated night of 2023.
During the Fox News town hall, Trump engaged with Iowa voters on various issues, from abortion to immigration and the economy, and hinted at having decided on his vice-presidential pick, though he withheld the name.
Meanwhile, on CNN, DeSantis and Haley engaged in a lively exchange, debating their records and discussing their potential to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination.
Notably, this was Trump’s first live appearance on Fox News since the network settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems, related to its coverage of Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Trump has been absent from the GOP presidential primary debates, citing his substantial lead in most polls. According to The Hill/Decision Desk HQ’s national polling average, Trump holds a commanding lead in the GOP primary, with 62.7 percent support, compared to Haley’s 11.8 percent and DeSantis’s 11.1 percent.