Tuesday’s GOP debate -- the first the Fox Business Network has ever hosted -- raked in an average of 13.5 million viewers, according to ratings agency Nielsen, setting a record for the 8-year-old network.
In the advertiser-friendly 25-54 demographic, FBN drew 3.7 million viewers.
The debate, moderated by FBN's Maria Bartiromo and Neil Cavuto and Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker, was also the most-watched primary event ever online. A peak of 1.4 million viewers tuned in -- beating out the 2015 Super Bowl on NBC, which had 1.3 million online viewers, and CNN’s live-streamed October debate, which drew 921,000.
The viewership was just shy of CNBC’s Republican debate audience of 14 million but fell far short of CNN’s match-up between the Republican candidates, which drew 22.6 million. It is also a far cry from the first Republican debate on Fox News, which was the first debate of the election cycle and raked in an astonishing 24 million viewers.
But FBN’s numbers still reflect outsized interest in the current election and represent a major win for the young network, which was founded in 2007. By way of comparison, the highest-rated GOP debate in the 2012 election cycle, which aired on ABC, drew 7.6 million viewers.
The network’s showing should also be considered especially strong given that Fox Business reaches a significantly smaller number of homes than the major networks -- 11 million fewer than CNN, for instance.
The “undercard” debate featuring second-tier Republican candidates averaged 4.7 million viewers, with 866,000 in the 25-54 demographic.