Donald Trump was deserted by some of his rusted on Fox News Channel supporters for the second Presidential debate. Some 15-16 million fewer viewers tuned in overall to the debate. That wasn’t through lack of interest but down to the fact that NBC didn’t broadcast the debate this time. Instead it showed its ratings staple, the Sunday night NFL game. The debate was carried on a total of 10 linear TV channels, plus it was streamed by some nets (such as CNN), or excepted on social media platforms.

All up the final overnight estimate showed the second US debate grabbed around 68.8 million viewers: short of the record 84 million who watched the first debate in late September. On top of NBC screening its usual Sunday Night Football game (which saw its ratings drop 9% from the previous week’s low figures) the big news was a sharp fall in viewers on the pro-Trump Fox News Channel, and a smaller fall for the Fox free to air broadcast.

Though the NFL audience fell from the previous week, it still managed 14.84 million viewers (it had been as high as 18 million earlier in the year). The late afternoon NFL game on CBS averaged 18.7 million. CBS grabbed 16.6 million viewers for the debate, while ABC edged past CNN with 11.5 million viewers. Fox’s free to air channel had 5.05 millio, down from 5.5 million. PBS accounted for 2.8 million viewers (down  from 3 million for the first debate), while Telemundo averaged 2.4 million viewers. Fox Business News, CNBC and Azteca, had a combined total of just under 1 million viewers.)  CBS saw a rise from 13.5 million for the first debate. ABC and Fox lost viewers.

The big story was the way the Trump cheer squad viewers over on Fox News Channel viewers didn’t tune it in the same numbers they did for the first debate. Perhaps it was the impact of the those tape disclosures, with Republican leaders and commentators abandoning Trump over the weekend, or disgust that their bete noire, Hillary Clinton, was looking like a winner at the November 8 polls.

The Neilsen ratings show that Fox News channel’s audience dropped 14% from the first debate to 9.89 million (from 11.4 million for the first debate combined with the 500,000 or so who dropped the Fox free to air coverage and around 2 million core Trump supporters failed to watch). CNN saw its audience figures rise to an average of 11.29 million (up 13% from the 9.9 million for the first debate). That was probably due to its Anderson Cooper being one of the two moderators for the debate. MSNBC saw its highest even figures for a debate: 5.55 million, up from 4.9 million.

The 68.8 million figure includes viewers who watched on CBS, ABC, Fox, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Univision, Fox Business Network, CNBC, and Azteca. Streaming will add to those. They won’t be available for a day or so. The overnight ratings exclude markets that were hit by Hurricane Matthew: Jacksonville and Orlando in Florida, Norfolk, Virginia., and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

In Australia the audience doubled to 1.09 million from 504,000 with higher audiences on Seven and the ABC. Nine broadcast the debates for the first time. Just 43,000 watched on Sky News.

Looking at last night – Nine won a narrow one in the metros, Seven easily won the regionals.  The program that stood out was Australian Story and the subject was Seven reporter, Talitha Cummins and her battle with alcohol – a brave story and good on her, and Seven for sticking with her. The program had 1.226 million national viewers which was one of the higher figures for the year.

The second episode of Nine’s thriller Hyde and Seek slumped from a national figure of 1.257 million for the debut to 1.014 million for the second episode last night. Not a good look. Australian Survivor on Ten picked up to 1.048 million from 925,000 national viewers a week ago. Seven’s The Secret Daughter dropped 100,000 viewers from its debut last week to 1.341 million (from 1.442 million). Much better than Hyde and Seek and the second part of Brock on Ten where the audience slumped to 852,000 nationally from 1.301 million for the first part on Sunday night. A one lap wonder! The X Factor on Seven averaged 1.295 million, down from the 1.363 million a week ago.

In regional markets last night an all Seven look to the top 5: Seven News, 590,000. Home and Away, 529,000, The Secret Daughter, 509,000, Seven News/Today Tonight, 505,000, The X Factor, 462,000.

Network channel share:

  1. Seven (27.3%)
  2. Nine (27.2%)
  3. Ten (20.7%)
  4. ABC (19.4%)
  5. SBS (5.4%)

Network main channels:

  1. Nine (19.9%)
  2. Seven (19.7%)
  3. Ten (15.6%)
  4. ABC (14.3%)
  5. SBS ONE (3.4%)

Top 5 digital channels: 

  1. 7TWO (3.9%)
  2. GO (3.5%)
  3. ABC 2 (3.1%)
  4. 7mate, Eleven (2.8%)

Top 10 national programs:

  1. Seven News  — 1.615 million
  2. Seven News/Today Tonight — 1.501million
  3. The Block (Nine) — 1.429 million
  4. The Secret Daughter (Seven) — 1.341 million
  5. Nine News — 1.325 million
  6. A Current Affair (Nine) — 1.303 million
  7. The X Factor (Seven) — 1.295 million
  8. Home and Away (Seven) — 1.234 million
  9. Australian Story (ABC) —1.226 million
  10. ABC News — 1.165 million

Top metro programs:

  1. Seven News — 1.025 million
  2. Nine News 6.30pm — 1.013 million
  3. The Block (Nine) — 1.008 million

Losers: Hyde and Seek – gone to Gowings. beaten by Australian Survivor. Love Child and Doctor Doctor shows Nine can make broader dramas with a touch of romance. But thrillers?

Metro news and current affairs:

  1. Seven News — 1.025 million
  2. Nine News (6.30pm) — 1.013 million
  3. Seven News/Today Tonight — 996,000
  4. Nine News — 990,000
  5. A Current Affair (Nine) — 833,000
  6. Australian Story (ABC) — 816,000
  7. ABC News – 777,000
  8. 7.30 (ABC) — 766,000
  9. The Project 7pm(Ten) — 638,000
  10. Four Corners (ABC) — 615,000

Morning TV:

  1. Sunrise (Seven) – 321,000
  2. Today (Nine) – 292,000
  3. The Morning Show (Seven) — 145,000
  4. News Breakfast (ABC,  97,000 + 42,000 on News 24) — 139,000
  5. Today Extra (Nine) — 114,000
  6. Studio 10 (Ten) —99,000

Top five pay TV channels:

  1. TVHITS  (2.3%)
  2. Sky news (2.2%)
  3. LifeStyle  (2.1%)
  4. Fox8 (1.8%)
  5. UKTV (1.6%)

Top five pay TV programs:

  1. NCIS (TV Hits) — 62,000
  2. Paul Murray Live (Sky news) — 52,000
  3. Phil Spencer’s Stately Homes (lifeStyle) — 51,000
  4. The Simpsons (Fox8) – 50,000
  5. A Place To Call Home (showcase) — 45,000

*Data © OzTAM Pty Limited 2016. The data may not be reproduced, published or communicated (electronically or in hard copy) in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of OzTAM. (All shares on the basis of combined overnight 6pm to midnight all people.) and network reports.

Peter Fray

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