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CNN’s highly criticized town hall with Donald Trump was watched by an audience of 3.3 million viewers, making it the second most watched single-candidate town halls since 2016.
As audiences tuned in to watch the former president take questions from moderator Kaitlan Collins, as well as GOP-leaning undecided New Hampshire voters, the program drew in 781,000 viewers in the key cable demographic among adults 25-54, according to official Nielsen figures.
Wednesday’s event was a close runner-up behind the network’s 2020 town hall with Joe Biden, which maintained its spot as the most watched single-candidate town hall with 3.47 million total viewers tuning in.
Viewership for the 2023 live event also exceeded the last time the former president appeared on CNN for a town hall by almost a million viewers, as the April 12, 2016 town hall averaged 2.2 million total viewers, which indicated a 125% increase in viewership as compared to time period norms at the time.
During the town hall, which began at 8 p.m. ET, CNN had the most attention of the cable news networks both in total viewers and viewers in the demo. In total viewers, Fox News followed in second place with 1.446 million viewers while MSNBC came in third place with 1.398 million viewers on average. Similarly, CNN exceeded Fox News’ demo viewership of 140,000 by 458% and beat MSNBC’s demo viewership of 160,000 by 388%.
As expected, CNN also swept overall primetime figures as the No. 1 most watched cable news channel with 2.293 million total viewers, marking the network’s best performance in terms of total primetime viewers since the 2022 Midterm Elections. Fox News came in second place with 1.683 million viewers while MSNBC followed behind with 1.458 million viewers.
The trend continued in the demo for primetime, with CNN leading with 510,000 viewers, Fox News coming in second with 189,000 and MSNBC coming in third place with 157,000 viewers in the demo.
Ahead of the live event, media experts told TheWrap the town hall might be an effort to assuage right-leaning viewers who might have swapped CNN for solely Fox News. Even Trump scoffed at his upcoming appearance , writing on Truth Social Tuesday that the network was “rightfully desperate to get those fantastic (TRUMP!) ratings once again,” and adding that CNN “made [him] a deal [he] couldn’t refuse.”