The heavily promoted, seven-hour event ran from 5 p.m. EST until midnight and featured 10 Democratic presidential hopefuls discussing their plans to combat climate change. CNN averaged 1.1 million viewers during the event, compared to 1.7 million for liberal rival MSNBC while Fox News averaged 2.5 million viewers over the same time period with regular programming.
CNN also finished last during the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. EST. Fox News averaged 3.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC’s average of 2.2 million while CNN settled for an average audience of 1.4 million primetime viewers.
Fox News dominated the key demographic of adults age 25-54 during both the 5 p.m.-12 a.m. window and primetime, but CNN’s lengthy event managed to edge MSNBC in the category. Fox News also averaged 418,000 demo viewers during CNN’s town hall, which drew 265,000 demo viewers to edge MSNBC’s 246,000.
CNN’s town hall audience peaked from 9-10 p.m. EST, when 1.5 million people tuned in for the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren portion of the event. Fox News attracted 3.4 million viewers during that time, while MSNBC attracted 2.8 million viewers.
Ratings issues are nothing new for CNN, which typically finishes well behind Fox News and MSNBC.
The most-watched show on CNN during the month of August was “Cuomo Prime Time,” which finished No. 23 overall behind 14 Fox News shows and eight MSNBC programs.
CNN will take another stab at made-for-TV town hall events on Oct. 10, when the liberal network will host a similar discussion centered on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer issues. 2020 Democratic hopefuls are expected to be grilled on a variety of issues related to the LGBTQ community on the eve of National Coming Out Day.
All town hall ratings data are courtesy of early Nielsen Media Research.