Viewership for Sunday's presidential debate was down — but still high — compared with the record-setting first clash between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
According to Variety, the event drew a 37.2 rating — roughly 37 percent of potential household sets — a 19 percent drop from the initial debate, which was the most-watched in history with 84 million viewers. Round two pulled in 63.6 million, according to Nielsen.
One explanation for the drop was that Hurricane Matthew wiped out transmission to many East Coast homes. More significant was NBC's decision to air the Giants-Packers football game. In the Twin Cities, that matchup drew a 16.9 rating, leading all networks, with WCCO's 13.2 rating close behind. But considering that the candidates' war of words aired on multiple channels, the contest wasn't even close.
Interest in the debate grew throughout the 90-minute event, with viewership peaking on the local CBS and Fox affiliates in the final half hour.
NBC's decision to air football shows both the strength of the NFL and the importance of advertising dollars. Outlets covering the debate did not have an opportunity to break away for commercials.
TV viewership may have been down, but it was up on social media. Facebook officials are saying the debate is its most-discussed event ever and Twitter reported more than 17 million debate-related comments, the most in its short history.