Trump-Biden debate audience slumps below 2016 record, early data show

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The first US presidential debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden likely attracted a much smaller audience than the record set four years ago, according to preliminary ratings data released on Wednesday.

An estimated 28.7 million people tuned in on broadcast networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, below the roughly 45 million viewers million who watched Trump debate former first lady Hillary Clinton on those channels in 2016.

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Data from additional networks was due to be released later on Wednesday.

In a chaotic 90-minute faceoff ahead of the Nov. 3 election, Biden and Trump battled fiercely over Trump’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and the economy

The early figures suggest the final total television tally will rank well below the record 84 million for the first Trump-Clinton debate in 2016, a rare number in an age of digital streaming.

The TV numbers do not include people who watched via online platforms, which are growing in popularity as traditional TV viewership declines.

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