Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate on FOX News Channel scored 12.5 million viewers, making it the second-highest rated telecast in the network’s history.
The debate topped all television shows -- including broadcast programs -- on Thursday night in total viewers. It also pulled in 3.5 million viewers in the advertiser-friendly demo of adults aged 25-54, according to Early Nielsen Research.
The debate beat CNN and MSNBC combined in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo. Those networks aired segments of a Donald Trump rally, which was scheduled after the GOP contender withdrew from the Fox News debate.
Moderated by Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, and presented in conjunction with Google, the combined Fox News event was also a driving force online and across social media. Nielsen Social TV ratings ranked the debate as the number one event on Twitter Thursday night with 1.073 million tweets and 162 million impressions, beating “American Idol” and WWE.
The Fox News event was the candidates’ last debate before Monday’s Iowa Caucus.