September 27, 2016: Clinton-Trump debate breaks 80-million record.
With ratings for 11 networks boasting live coverage of the debate now in, the event has surpassed 83 million viewers — 83.7 million, to be exact. That doesn't even yet include the likely record-breaking showing among streamers. Regardless, it would put it ahead of the 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. That set the bar at 80 million viewers.September 20, 2016: this article says upwards of 100 million will watch, but they also say 80 million watched the Carter-Reagan debate. If 100 million watch, NFL Monday night will be the big loser, but I can hardly imagine football fans tuning in to watch more than a few minutes of the debate.
The question is whether the first debate (or any of the debates) will exceed the final episode of Magnum, P.I. See list below.
Presidential debates ranked on household average audience, top five, in millions:
- 2012, Obama-Romney, 1st: 46.2
- 1980, Carter-Reagan: 45.8
- 2012, Obama-Romney, 2nd: 45.6
- 2008, Obama-McCain, 1st : 44.4
- 1992, Clinton-Bush-Perot, 1st: 43.1
- M*A*S*H: 125.0
- Roots (miniseries): 100.0
- Cheers: 93.5
- The Fugitive: 78.0
- Seinfeld: 76.3
- Friends: 65.9
- Magnum, P.I.: 50.7
- The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: 50.0
- The Cosby Show: 44.4
- All in the Family: 40.2