Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect the latest data from Nielsen & Trump’s Tusla rally attendance
NBC’s (CMCSA) controversial town hall with President Trump drew in 13 million viewers on Thursday night, according to final numbers from Nielsen — less than ABC’s (DIS) competing event with Democratic contender Joe Biden.
The former vice president amassed an impressive 13.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen’s data, and Biden also topped Trump among adults aged 18-49, with a 2.6 rating to the president’s 1.7 rating.
It was a surprise finish for Biden as Trump’s event aired simultaneously on NBC, CNBC and MSNBC whereas Biden only had the ABC network to rely on.
The Trump town hall averaged 10.6 million viewers on the NBC broadcast network, followed by 1.74 million on MSNBC and 671,000 viewers on CNBC.
President Trump’s night was already off to a rocky start, after critics slammed NBC for scheduling the town hall at the exact same time as Vice President Joe Biden’s on ABC. After contracting COVID-19, the president refused to attend a debate originally scheduled for October 15, after organizers decided to host it remotely.
NBC’s decision unleashed a torrent of media and celebrity criticism that largely played out over social media.
On Thursday, over 100 showrunners, producers and stars — including Ryan Murphy, Ava Duvernay, “Law & Order: SVU’s” Mariska Hargitay and “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman — penned a letter to NBCUniversal and Comcast executives. They criticized the network for “enabling the president's bad behavior” and “doing a disservice to the American public.”
The letter added: “This is not a partisan issue. This is about the political health of our democracy.”
Meanwhile, TikTok stars encouraged fans to turn on Biden’s town hall on all of their devices in order to thwart Trump’s ratings. (To note, Nielsen’s overnight metered market ratings famously do not include streaming services.)
TikTok has continuously been a thorn in the side of the president, who in recent weeks has sought a ban against the platform based on national security concerns. Back in June, a viral challenge encouraged users to purchase tickets to a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma and not show up.
The final presidential debate is scheduled to take place at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. EST.
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193