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24 million watched US presidential debate: Fox

AFP , Friday 7 Aug 2015
US
Republican 2016 presidential candidates (L-R) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, businessman Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Ohio Governor John Kasich pose at the start of the first official Republican presidential candidates debate of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign in Cleveland, Ohio, August 6, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
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A staggering 24 million viewers tuned in to the first major Republican debate of the US presidential election cycle, the highest-rated non-sports telecast in the history of cable television, Fox News reported Friday.

"Fox had 24 million viewers last night. That is an absolutely monster number," tweeted Fox media commentator Howard Kurtz.

The viewership of the prime-time 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm debate, in which frontrunner billionaire Donald Trump squared off against nine of his top Republican challengers for the nomination, is by far the highest rating of any presidential primary debate.

Fox, citing figures from ratings monitor Nielsen Media Research, also said the telecast drew 7.9 million viewers in the 25-54 age range, the key advertising demographic.

Numbers were also huge for the second-tier debate which took place at 5:00 pm Thursday and featured the seven low-polling candidates who failed to make the cut for the prime time event.

Some 6.1 million people watched the preliminary debate, Fox said, citing Nielsen.

The debate night appears to have been a multi-platform smash.

Facebook, which co-sponsored the showdowns, said 7.5 million people in the United States made 20 million debate-related interactions on Facebook, including likes, posts, comments and shares, the social media giant said Friday.

Twitter reported that tweets about the two debates were viewed a whopping 1.1 billion times.

Kurtz argued that the sky-high viewership was a combination of "huge public interest, Trump, August lull and riveting television."

The results are not just good news for Fox.

The Republicans will host at least eight more debates as the party whittles down its broad field and determines its flagbearer to go up against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The next Republican debate is scheduled for September 16 in California and broadcast on CNN.

The debut Democratic Party debate is scheduled for October 13 in Nevada, also on CNN.

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