Saturday Oct 17, 2020
LOS ANGELES: Just weeks ahead of the November 3 US Presidential Election, former vice president Joe Biden took a lead in a TV ratings battle with US President Donald Trump as the two held competing town halls with voters.
According to Nielsen rating data released on Friday, Biden averaged 15.1 million viewers during Thursday night's 90-minute discussion on Walt Disney Co's ABC broadcast network. Trump pulled in 13.5 million for his 60-minute event across Comcast Corp's broadcaster NBC and the company's MSNBC and CNBC cable channels.
For the one-hour period that both Trump and Biden were on air, Biden averaged 14.3 million to Trump’s 13.5 million.
The primetime town halls were scheduled after the cancellation of a debate that had been set for the same time. Trump pulled out of the debate after it was changed to a virtual format.
During his event on ABC, Biden attacked Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. On NBC, Trump defended his administration’s response to the virus and his own personal conduct.
NBC was criticized for scheduling Trump opposite Biden after ABC had already set its event, forcing voters to choose which candidate to watch live. Trump often brags about the size of his television audiences.
In some markets, the events did not compete directly. In Los Angeles, for example, ABC aired the Biden event live at 5 p.m. Pacific while NBC broadcast a recording of Trump at 8 pm Pacific.