More Americans tuned in to watch CBS' "Big Bang Theory" Thursday night at 9 p.m. than the sixth Republican debate, according to a report by Nielsen.
The first debate of 2016 was broadcast by Fox Business Network and received an average of 11 million viewers, the lowest number of any GOP debate this cycle. The last debate, broadcast by CNN, drew 18 million viewers.
Although the Republican debates have slowly lost some of their audience since the first debate in August, which averaged 25 million viewers, the number of Americans tuning in to watch is up considerably from previous years.
At the same points in the 2008 and 2012 primaries, only 5 to 7 million people were watching the Republican debates. Approximately double the number of viewers watched some or all of the two and a half hour debate, which does not include web streams, bars or viewing parties.
The increase can be attributed to a couple of factors. Since the first couple debates had higher-than-average ratings, it indicates there were more viewers likely to return for a future debate.
Second, Donald Trump's entrance to the race last June has continued to interest many voters who watch the debates. Some seek to hear his policy positions. Others tune in just to see what the blunt newcomer politician will say.