Left to right: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and Ben Carson at Wednesday night's Republican presidential debate on CNBC.
Photograph by Rick Wilking—Getty Images
By Tom Huddleston Jr.
October 29, 2015

Surprising no one, CNBC easily destroyed its personal television ratings record last night with help from Donald Trump and company.

Despite complaints from Republicans about moderators’ questions, plenty of people still tuned in to watch Wednesday evening’s GOP presidential primary debate. Preliminary numbers show anywhere between 10 million and 13 million people watched the third GOP primary debate of the 2016 presidential election cycle, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Any viewership total within that range would easily beat Comcast-owned (CMCSA) CNBC’s previous ratings record, which came four years ago when 3.1 million viewers tuned in to for a Republican primary debate featuring eventual party nominee Mitt Romney along with such candidates as Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachman, and (a forgetful) Rick Perry.

However, while Wednesday’s debate may have represented a personal triumph for CNBC, the network’s broadcast still posted ratings that were well below those seen in the first two GOP debates of the current election cycle. The August debate that aired on Fox News (FOX) attracted a record-breaking 24 million viewers, while last month’s GOP debate on CNN brought in around 23 million viewers. In both cases, viewers’ curiosity over onetime frontrunner Donald Trump was credited with the huge television ratings, though even the first Democratic debate earlier this month pulled in more viewers than last night’s event, with more than 15 million.

CNBC is likely pretty pleased with its record night, though, especially after the network sold out all of its advertising spots around the event at roughly a $200,000 premium per 30-second spot, according to THR.


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