YouTube Debate Viewership Proves the Power of Digital

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The October 9 debate attracted 63 million TV viewers, a 20 percent decline from the first. But on YouTube, debate content—including all videos related to the debate—garnered 124 million views, a 40 percent spike compared with the first. And that’s just on YouTube. Another 3.2 million tuned into Twitter’s livestream, and Facebook’s Live broadcast partnership with ABC News now has 7.4 million views.

Blame it on football season, blame it on the cord cutters, blame it on the gutter-level mudslinging driving some traditional viewers away, or blame it on humans’ technologically enabled short attention spans, but it seems Americans are increasingly interested in watching the debate in bite-sized portions, rather than sitting through the long slog. According to YouTube, viewers tuned into its livestream for an average of 25 minutes. Altogether, though, they watched 2.5 million hours of the livestream. That’s still smaller than the total TV hours watched, but it’s nearly six times more views than YouTube received in 2012. Of course, it can be a little tougher for campaigns to parse these online numbers to figure out whether likely voters actually tuned in.


YouTube Debate Viewership Proves the Power of Digital