TV Ratings: FOX News' GOP debate surges to 2016 high

Donald Trump Put in the Hot Seat as GOP Debate Gets Dirty
Donald Trump Put in the Hot Seat as GOP Debate Gets Dirty

Donald Trump returned to the Fox News Channel stage on Thursday night, appearing at the Republican Party's 11th (that's right, 11th) debate of this presidential campaign. And it easily ranks as the highest-rated in nearly three months.

READ MORE: Candidate to skip 1st FOX News Dem Town Hall

The two-hour event averaged 16.9 million viewers for the cable news network, 5.5 million of them adults 25-54. The last debate to approach those numbers was on Dec. 15, when the playing field of candidates was much more crowded. Compared to the most recent GOP debate, Thursday marked an audience spike of nearly 2.5 million.

See more from Thursday night's debate:

Overnight returns gave the FNC debate a 11.5 rating among Nielsen's metered market households. That was up more than 15 percent from the 9.9 rating that the last GOP debate grossed between CNN and Telemundo. All told, that debate averaged 14.5 million viewers, which made it the most-watched of the year at the time. (On CNN alone, the debate pulled a 9.0 in households and 12.6 million viewers.)

Data curated by InsideGov

Thursday marked the first time Trump and FNC host and debate moderator Megyn Kelly shared screen time since butting heads at the first GOP debate on Aug. 6. His public issues with theKelly File host, stemming from her pushing him on his past remarks about women, was one of the reasons cited for his skipping the last Fox debate in January.

FNC still holds the record for the most-watched debate, the first, which raked in a record 24 million viewers.

Complete ratings for the March 3 debate, including total viewers and the number of adults 25-54, will arrive later on Friday. See below for a complete rundown of debate audiences to date.


Aug. 6 -- 24 million (FNC)
Sept. 16 -- 23 million (CNN)
Oct. 28 -- 14 million (CNBC)
Nov. 10 -- 13.5 million (FBN)
Dec. 15 -- 18.2 million (CNN)
Jan. 14 -- 11.1 million (FBN)
Jan. 28 -- 12.5 million (FNC)
Feb. 6 -- 13.2 million (ABC)
Feb. 13 -- 13.5 million (CBS)
Feb. 25 -- 14.5 million (CNN/Telemundo)


Oct. 13 -- 15.8 million (CNN)
Nov. 14 -- 8.6 million (CBS)
Dec. 19 -- 8 million (ABC)
Jan. 17 -- 10.2 million (NBC)
Feb. 4 -- 4.5 million (MSNBC)
Feb. 11 -- 8.0 million (PBS/CNN)

Watch more coverage below:

'Big Don' and 'Little Marco' Kind of Derailed the Fox News Debate
'Big Don' and 'Little Marco' Kind of Derailed the Fox News Debate