Jul 2, 2019

Political Audience Viewership of First Democratic Debate

Author: Deep Root Analytics


Deep Root Analytics, an audience-powered analytics company that analyzes how key voter and consumer audiences consume media, partnered with TiVo, a global leader in entertainment technology and insights, to measure viewership of the debates. This analysis provides the first viewership metrics among Democratic primary voters, including the early states that campaigns care about most.

The analysis was conducted by anonymously matching Deep Root’s in-house voter file, which includes dozens of political segments including Democratic primary voters, to TiVo’s second-by-second set-top box data sourced from millions of households nationwide.

With this combined dataset, we were able to see exactly how this audience watched the debate. We calculated two primary statistics – the reach of each night of the debate, and the combined reach of both nights.  The first tells us what percentage of the audience watched at least part of the debate, while the second is the percentage of the audience that watched at least part of either night.

In addition, we estimated the audience rating for Democratic primary voters on a minute-by-minute basis, starting one hour before the events and ending one hour afterwards. This analysis uncovers trends in viewership across the night, helping advertisers pinpoint the moments when their creatives are likely to make the biggest impact.


  • Viewership was extremely high among voters:  Deep Root’s analysis of key political audiences matched into TiVo’s second-by-second tuning data which is sourced from millions of households nationwide, reveals a high degree of interest across the political spectrum as nearly 1 out of every 4 voters watched at least some portion of the two Democratic debates last week.
  • As many Republicans and Swing voters watched the debates as Democrats:  25% of Democratic primary voters watched at least some of the debate nights across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, but they weren’t the only ones watching, as 24% of Swing voters tuned in alongside 24% of GOP primary voters as well.
  • Iowa led among early states: Viewership among key political audiences varied substantially across the country, with Iowa leading the pack of early states at 29% reach among Democratic primary voters.  Nevada viewership hit 25%, while South Carolina and New Hampshire lagged behind at about 20% each.
  • California was tops among Super Tuesday states:  29% of Democratic primary voters in the delegate rich Super Tuesday state of California tuned in, while other Super Tuesday states with large delegate counts such as North Carolina and Virginia registered significantly smaller audiences.
  • Viewership peaked in the first 20 minutes: Tracking viewership by minute, we found that ratings hit their maximum in the first 20 and last 10 minutes of the debate. Viewers were likely to tune-in as early as 15 minutes before the event, and stay tuned into the same station for as long as 30 minutes after the debates ended.
  • More evidence for unique 2020 enthusiasm:  Broad viewership of the debate across partisan lines serves as yet another indicator that the 2020 election will be one of extremely high interest, with both “bases” engaged and ready to turn out, as well as attracting engagement among non-ideological voters.

Click here to read the full analysis: Political Audience Viewership of First Democratic Debate