Entertainment Weekend: Fox News reaches 12.8 million viewers for GOP primary debate, despite Donald Trump’s absence

NEW YORK (AP) — Even without lead contender Donald Trump, an estimated 12.8 million people watched the first Republican presidential primary debate on two Fox News television channels and its streaming service.

There seemed little evidence that Trump’s attempt to counterprogram the debate, by appearing in an online interview with Tucker Carlson at about the same time on Wednesday, appreciably affected the number of people who were interested in checking out the eight alternatives.

The viewership was a little more than half the 24 million people who watched Trump appear in his first presidential debate in August 2015, the Nielsen company said. But it outpaced a January 2016 GOP candidates debate on Fox that Trump also skipped and was seen by 12.5 million people

The Republican presidential candidates vying to be the leading alternative to front-runner Donald Trump fought — sometimes bitterly – over abortion rights, U.S. support for Ukraine and the future of the party during the first primary debate of the 2024 campaign. (Aug. 24)

Television is a vastly different world than it was eight years ago, with streaming more established and thousands of cable customers cutting the cord. The most-watched program seen live last week on either broadcast or cable TV was a “60 Minutes” rerun on CBS that reached 5.3 million viewers.