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Comcast NBC: Record-High Viewers for Presidential Debate


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Comcast Corporation’s (CMCSA - Analyst Report) NBC broadcasting network has outshined rivals in terms of viewership numbers for the first presidential debate of the year. The channel recorded a total of 18.2 million viewers, marking the highest count since 1992. Moreover, adding NBS’s MSNBC coverage reached the tally to about 23.1 million. The high viewership numbers meant that NBC led the Nielsen ratings for the coverage. Interestingly, this year’s presidential debate has been the most-watched one in history, per Nielsen ratings.

How Did the Rivals Fare?

The Walt Disney Company (DIS - Analyst Report) -owned American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and CBS Corporation (CBS - Analyst Report) saw 13.5 million and 12.1 million viewers, respectively, lagging NBC’s figures by a wide margin. NBC also scored high in the 25–54 demographic, where its tally of 8.3 million viewers outpaced ABC‘s 4.75 million and CBS’ 4.8 million. Notably, the 25–54 age bracket serves as a key demographic indicator for advertisers, especially during coverage of presidential debates and elections.

Cable Network Figures

In the basic cable network category, Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc.’s (FOX - Snapshot Report) Fox News emerged a winner with 11.36 million viewers. Meanwhile, The Cable News Network (CNN) managed the second position with 9.3 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 4.9 million viewers, taking NBC’s total to 23.1 million which trumped the count of all other networks. In the 25–54 age group, CNN took the lead with 4.4 million viewers, while Fox News and MSNBC recorded 3.5 million and 1.9 million, respectively.

The Bottom Line

Of late, NBC has been raising quite a hue and cry over viewership ratings. Recently, the company recorded 21 successive Nielsen nightly rating wins, mainly driven by the broadcast of the Summer Olympics in Rio. We believe that continual positive ratings for the network will attract advertisers in the coming debates which will boost the top line significantly. This is sure to help Comcast put a check on the cord cutting it has been witnessing in the pay TV industry.

Comcast currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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