Even without primary contender Donald Trump, an estimated 12.8 million people watched the first Republican presidential primary debate On Fox News’ two television channels and its streaming service.

There appeared to be no evidence that Trump was trying to counter the debate by doing an online interview with Tucker Carlson at about the same time on Wednesday, which clearly affected the number of people interested in seeing the eight alternatives.

Nielsen said the ratings were slightly more than half of the 24 million people who watched Trump’s first presidential debate in August 2015.But the debate outpaced the January 2016 Republican debate on Fox, which Trump also skipped, with 12.5 million viewers

The TV world is very different than it was eight years ago, streaming is more mature, and thousands of cable subscribers are no longer using TVs. The most-watched show on broadcast or cable last week was the CBS rerun of “60 Minutes,” with 5.3 million viewers.

While former Fox host Carlson boasted on Wednesday that his live interview would get a “larger” audience than the televised debates, and Trump claimed the interview would have more viewers than the Super Bowl, there’s no surefire way to verify at this point.

Social media company X, formerly known as Twitter, said Thursday afternoon that Carlson’s talk show had 236.7 million tweet views. But that refers to the number of times someone scrolled through Carlson’s interview with Trump in their feed — even if they didn’t open the post to view the content.

If you happen to view the post a dozen times, it counts as a dozen views.

The number of public interactions was low: the interview was accompanied by about 55,000 comments, of which about 200,000 liked it.

TV ratings data is an estimate of how many people are watching a debate at a given moment. The debate was simulcast live on Fox News Channel and the Fox Business Network.

Moderated by Brett Beyer and Martha McCallum, the two-hour debate didn’t mention Trump until midway through. Beyer then said he wanted to take a moment to talk about the “elephant in the room” — Trump and his four criminal indictments.

Clear reluctance to talk about this topic, but the 10 minutes of discussion contained some more meat to the debate. electric moment.

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