Nearly 48 million people watched the Trump-Biden debate on TV, but that's nothing compared to previous election years

  • 47.9 million people watched the debate across all networks.

  • CNN may have been the host, but the network didn't have the most television viewers — Fox News did.

  • Viewership is down from prior years, as a record 84 million watched the Trump-Clinton debate in 2016.

Last night's presidential debate attracted 47.9 million viewers across networks, according to early Nielsen numbers, making it the most-watched non-sporting event of the year. Still, audience numbers paled in comparison to previous years.

Though CNN hosted the debate, the network didn't boast the largest television audience — Fox News claimed that prize, with 8.8 million viewers compared to CNN's 8.7 million. ABC News also pulled 8.7 million eyeballs, while MSNBC drew nearly 4.0 million. A total of 22 networks streamed the event, which is widely being considered a disaster for President Biden.

The debate also received more than 30 million views on CNN's platforms and YouTube, according to the network.

Though the viewership may seem impressive, it marks a steep drop from past presidential elections. In 2016, a record 84 million people tuned into the debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And 73 million viewers watched the first Biden-Trump match up four years ago.

Some view the lower viewership as an indication of Americans' general disinterestedness in politics. Voters are more disengaged with this election than they have been in nearly 20 years, according to an article in the Columbia Journalism Review.

On Twitter, the journalist Brian Stelter said that the television ratings "are also further proof of political FATIGUE in America. Many people are tired and tuned out."

"That portends turnout falling and maybe even crashing," Jonathan Martin, a senior political columnist at Politico, tweeted in response.

Given the reactions to Biden's performance, the relatively lackluster viewership may have been a blessing.

Read the original article on Business Insider