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Joe Biden and Donald Trump went head to head via proxy last night, as the presidential contenders took part in duelling town halls. The events gave both candidates a chance to speak at length about their potential policies and plans without threat of interruption, a welcome change for the millions of Americans who tuned in. Many of them clearly favoured one candidate over the other, viewership figures have found, as Joe Biden is once again on top.
Both candidates began their respective town halls at 8pm ET (1am BST) yesterday, with Mr Trump speaking via NBC for one hour, and Mr Biden from ABC for one-and-a-half.
Provisional figures following yesterday’s bout found nearly 28 million people in total turned out to watch the candidates.
Of those people, Mr Biden seemed to draw the most interest, gathering an audience of 14.1 million people on ABC.
Mr Trump attracted just 13.5 million people via NBC and its two affiliates, MSNBC and CNBC.
Ruling out non-direct broadcasters, Mr Biden’s lead grows by more than one million.
A total of 11 million people tuned in to watch Mr Trump via NBC alone, while MSNBC provided 1.8 million viewers and CNBC 700,000.
Telecasts saw similar supremacy from Mr Biden, who gathered more of a following via ABC’s YouTube stream than NBC.
The massive lead defied expectations from both the general public and Trump staffers, who thought the President’s entertainment value would bring in more viewers.
Mr Trump’s senior campaign advisor Jason Miller boasted “we’re gonna have a much bigger audience than Joe” before the two took to the stage.
The President has a well-documented obsession with television ratings, likely given his years helming NBC reality show The Apprentice.
Comments on television ratings regularly feature in his Twitter posts and have done since long before his presidency.
However, commentators insist the President used to exaggerate his show’s success.
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Most recently, he raved about ratings he provided “Fake Media Companies” in an explosive Tweet.
Back on September 30, he wrote they would “miss him very badly”.
The Tweet read: “HIGHEST CABLE TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME. SECOND HIGHEST OVERALL TELEVISION RATINGS OF ALL TIME.
“Some day these Fake Media Companies are going to miss me, very badly!!!”
Political pundits expected a Biden presidency would not bring similar viewership, but the latest figures show otherwise.
Mr Biden’s national press secretary TJ Ducklo Tweeted Americans now want to avoid the “chaotic” Trump appearances which previously made him entertaining.
He wrote: “Turns out more people last night were interested in watching a leader with a clear plan to get this pandemic under control and Americans back to work, than the same combative, chaotic liar whose incompetence got us into this mess — regardless of how many channels he was on.”
Pundits believe Americans may have started slipping into Trump “fatigue”.
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