Television viewers were more interested in watching a Donald Trump town hall than the first head-to-head debate between Republican challengers Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis.
The live town hall, which aired on Fox News Channel in prime time on Wednesday, was watched by 4.3 million viewers, the Nielsen company said. The CNN debate, which aired live at the same time, was seen by just under 2.6 million, per Nielsen.
Fox said the Trump campaign demanded that the town hall go head-to-head on TV against CNN’s debate at 9 p.m. Eastern, as a condition to the former president’s appearance. Trump has not participated in any of the organized debates of GOP 2024 presidential candidates.
Both events took place in Des Moines, Iowa, in advance of Monday’s Iowa presidential caucuses.
Fox said Trump’s town hall got an additional 1.4 million viewers when reruns were aired at midnight Eastern time and in the middle of the night.
Since Fox News routinely has more viewers than CNN, Wednesday’s ratings victory wasn’t a surprise. The former president has also consistently beaten his GOP rivals by wide margins in public opinion polls.