Tuesday TV Ratings 9/29/20: Trump/Biden Presidential Debate Heavily Down from 2016 as ABC Leads Coverage, Weakest Link Starts Strong (UPDATED)

Preliminary Analysis: President Trump and Joe Biden got into the ring and took part in a 90-minute screaming match, pulling in a solid amount of viewers in the process but mostly trailing the first debate ratings from 2016. ABC led the way with a robust 2.8 rating, just six-tenths below what debate coverage managed in 2016 (3.4). It had some solid help from a 'Trump vs Biden' special (1.2) that preceded it. NBC's debate coverage (2.2) was down a whopping 62% from the monstrous 5.8 the peacock network garnered four years ago. There was a nice consolation prize in the 8pm hour though as the series premiere of Jane Lynch game show 'Weakest Link' (1.3) debuted in strong fashion. 

Week 2 of Fox's 'Cosmos: Possible Worlds' (0.5) was a good bit above last week's premiere (0.4/0.3) thanks to debate pre-tune. The debate itself at 9 (1.3) was well behind ABC and NBC but only five-tenths below the first debate of 2016 (1.8). Like NBC, CBS was massively down from 2016's 3.0 rating, posting a paltry 1.1 A18-49 rating this time around. The coverage led out of 'Love Island' (0.6), the latter is eyeing a season high if it does not adjust down in finals.

As far as debate analysis goes, ABC posted a sturdy 2.0, NBC a 1.6, and CBS a measly 0.9. Fox stayed out of the political sewer. And the CW avoided politics entirely, instead going for a double dose of 'Whose Line Is It Anyway' (0.2/0.2) and the finale of 'Tell Me a Story' (0.1).

You can read more about 2016 debate ratings HERE

Finals Update: Debate coverage on ABC (+0.4), NBC (+0.5), CBS (+0.3), and Fox (+0.3) and Debate Analysis on ABC (+0.1), NBA (+0.2), and CBS (+0.1) adjusted up. Weakest Link (-0.1), The Main Event (-0.1), and Cosmos (-0.1) adjusted down.



18-49 Rating/Share

Viewers (mil)


8 PMWeakest Link (Series Premiere)1.2/75.93NBC

Trump vs. Biden: The Main Event1.1/65.75ABC

Love Island0.6/32.84CBS

Cosmos: Possible Worlds0.4/21.79Fox

Whose Line Is It Anyway? (R)0.2/10.92The CW
8:30 PMWhose Line Is It Anyway? (R)0.2/10.90The CW
9 PM2020 Presidential Debate #13.2/1412.62ABC

2020 Presidential Debate #12.7/129.77NBC

2020 Presidential Debate #11.6/75.44Fox

2020 Presidential Debate #11.4/66.38CBS

Tell Me a Story (F)0.1/10.30The CW
10:30 PMDebate Analysis2.1/108.69ABC

Debate Analysis1.8/96.93NBC

Debate Analysis1.0/54.94CBS
(R) = repeat
(F) = finale

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