Thirty-six million people watched Tuesday night’s fiery vice presidential debate, the lowest number since the 2000 VP contest, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen Research.
Final numbers that include all cable networks covering the event will push the number higher, likely into the 38 million to 40 million range.
Either way, the audience would be the smallest for a vice presidential debate since 29.1 million watched Republican Dick Cheney take on Democrat Joe Lieberman in 2000.
In 2012, the debate between Vice President Biden and Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanJuan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Cheney takes shot at Trump: 'I like Republican presidents who win re-election' Cheney allies flock to her defense against Trump challenge MORE (R-Wis.) drew 51.4 million viewers.
The highest-rated recent vice presidential debate came in 2008, when 69.9 million watched Biden and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
The lowest-rated debate of all time occurred between Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreMcAuliffe on 2000 election: 'I wish the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes' All Democrats must compromise to pass economic plans, just like 1993 Amy Coney Barrett sullies the Supreme Court MORE and the late Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) in 1996. It drew just 26.6 million viewers.
On the broadcast end, NBC won the night, with 6.69 million total viewers. CBS was second with 6.49 million. ABC and Fox rounded out the big four networks.
On the cable front, CNN won in the 25–54 age demographic, with 1.68 million viewers to Fox News's 1.50 million.
Fox News led the way in total viewers, 6.08 million compared with CNN's 4.16 million.
MSNBC finished third in both categories.
The numbers fell short of what most analysts were expecting.
A recent ABC poll showed 40 percent of those polled couldn't name either Pence or Kaine as their party's respective nominees.
The second presidential debate between Donald TrumpDonald TrumpYoungkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege Democrats say GOP lawmakers implicated in Jan. 6 should be expelled MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSuper PACs release ad campaign hitting Vance over past comments on Trump I voted for Trump in 2020 — he proved to be the ultimate RINO in 2021 Neera Tanden tapped as White House staff secretary MORE is set for this Sunday night in St. Louis. Moderators for the town hall-style event will be ABC’s Martha Raddatz and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Their first debate, on Sept. 26, drew a record 84 million viewers.