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TV Town Halls: What the Data Says About Trump vs. Biden’s Debate Replacements

There was a lot of noise about how Biden won the ratings race, but beyond that there were also a few trends worth noting.

Bigger Together

According to Inscape, VIZIO’s TV data division with insights from a panel of more than 16 million smart TVs, overall about 12% of TVs tuned into the Trump/Biden town halls. That’s significantly less than the 60% that tuned into the first debate.

When Measured by Time Viewed That Day, Neither Town Hall Beat Baseball

Of all the live, linear minutes watched on Oct. 15, 2.23% of the time was spent with ABC’s town hall with Joe Biden, The Vice President and the People — A Special Edition of 20/20, putting it in second place for percent share duration that day. MLB baseball was No. 1 with 4.17%, while NBC’s Decision 2020: Trump Town Hall captured 1.54% of watch-time.

Lots of People Used Time-Shifting to Watch Both

Lots of people watched Trump’s event live, while Biden’s event, which ran longer, drew more time-shifted viewing. As you can see below, NBC and ABC traded the lead over the course of the night, with commercial breaks creating a surge of audience for the other. You can also see there was a fair amount of time-delayed viewing, as Biden-watchers stretched past the broadcast window in big numbers and some folks (but less) did the same for Trump.

Via Inscape.tv
Via Inscape.tv

NBCUniversal’s Multicast Drove People Away

As written up Friday in Ad Age, viewership of MSNBC took a nosedive during its broadcast of the Trump town hall, returning to pre-town hall levels almost as soon as it was over — suggesting these viewers actively tuned out when Trump came on. 

Via Inscape.tv

Here are the Brands Not Afraid to Be in the Political Conversation

Using data from iSpot.tv, the cross-platform ad measurement and attribution company, we got our hands on a complete list of brands that advertised during both events.

  • Including network promos, 11 brands advertised during the Trump town hall across NBC/MSNBC/CNBC, while 34 brands advertised during Biden’s town hall (which was a two-hour broadcast vs. Trump’s one-hour show). 
  • SimpliSafe and Norton are the only brands that advertised on both specials.

Here is the complete list of brands that weren’t afraid to show up during this political moment:

Trump Town Hall

  • Norton
  • NordicTrack
  • SimpliSafe
  • Universal Pictures
  • T-Mobile
  • Kajabi
  • Credit Associates

Biden Town Hall

  • WhiteHat Jr.
  • Nature’s Bounty
  • Pandora
  • Progressive
  • Chevrolet
  • Kia 
  • Ford 
  • WeatherTech
  • Norton
  • 811
  • UnitedHealthCare
  • Boost Complete Nutritional Drink
  • Talk About TD
  • SimpliSafe
  • Voya Financial
  • Prudential
  • Timeshare Termination Team
  • Pacific Life
  • Samsung Mobile
  • Facebook
  • Advil
  • Milk-Bone
  • Donald J. Trump for President
  • Jersey Mike’s
  • Jardiance
  • Xeljanz
  • Merck
  • Gold Bond
  • Garnier (skin care)
  • Airborne
  • AT&T Wireless
  • Verizon