U.S. VP debate audience up slightly from 2016, early ratings show: Variety

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic vice presidential nominee and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris take part in the 2020 vice presidential debate moderated by Susan Page of USA Today, on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S., October 7, 2020. Justin Sullivan/Pool via REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Television viewership for U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s debate with Democratic challenger Kamala Harris rose slightly from a similar pre-election 2016 debate, according to early Nielsen ratings data reported by Hollywood publication Variety.

About 22.6 million people watched the Wednesday night faceoff across six networks, Variety said. That figure is 6% higher than the comparable number four years ago when the Republican Pence debated Democrat Tim Kaine.

Final viewership numbers were expected later on Thursday.

Vice presidential debates typically draw smaller audiences than presidential face-offs. President Donald Trump’s debate with former Vice President Joe Biden pulled in 73 million viewers, making it the second-biggest event on U.S. television this year.

In 2016, the match-up between Pence and Kaine drew 37 million when final numbers were tallied.

The Nielsen numbers included people watching at home and at such venues as bars and restaurants. It also included some digital viewership through televisions connected to the internet.

The figures do not capture the full extent of online viewing, which has grown in popularity as traditional TV audiences decline.

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