Nielsen Ratings of Palin / Biden Debate

October 3, 2008

After reading a post on FiveThirtyEight, I looked at the data from Nielsen on how many people watched last night’s Vice Presidential Debate between Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden. 

For one, the weighted average rating of 45 is quite impressive, meaning that almost half of televisions that were on in the markets that were studied were tuned into the debate.

Second, it’s interesting to me how the ratings may have been affected by baseball.  The TV ratings in the markets where a Major League Baseball team is currently engaged in a Division Series tended to be markedly lower than the average.  In Los Angeles ( where the Dodgers were playing a game while the debate was in progress), the rating was only 34.4.  Philadelphia’s rating of 45.8 was comparable to the average, and may have been higher due to local interest in hearing Biden as he’s from Delaware and also since the Phillies won their game against Milwaukee shortly after the debate started, so people could switch channels without fear of missing the action.  The Chicago rating (40.3) may have been affected by the Cubs game, which was in progress during the debate.   Boston was not playing yesterday, and their TV rating was an astonishing 54.3!

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