Almost as many households in Philadelphia watched Monday night’s Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump debate as watched the Eagles’ last Super Bowl.
The local overnight Nielsen rating for Philadelphia was 53.4, meaning 53.4 percent of TV households in Philadelphia were tuned into the debate. That number ranked third in the country, behind only New York City and Fort Myers, Fla. One ratings point in the Philadelphia region translates to about 30,000 TV households. So about 1.6 million households in the region were tuned into the debate.
To compare the debate to major sporting events involving local teams, we dug through Inquirer and Daily News archives. It turns out 53.4 was nearly as high of a rating as the Eagles drew during their Super Bowl run 11 years ago.
In 2005, when the Eagles lost to the New England Patriots in a heartbreaker, the game scored a 56 rating in Philadelphia. That rating was actually slightly lower than the Eagles’ NFC Championship victory against the Atlanta Falcons the same year. It drew a 57.4.
The Phillies didn’t fare as successfully against Clinton and Trump. The debate was more popular than the Phillies’ World Series championship. In 2008, the average rating in Philadelphia for the series was 36.5. The rating for game one of the 2009 World Series against the Yankees, when Cliff Lee led the Phils to a 6-1 victory, was a 44.5.
But what if Philadelphians had a choice? If the Phillies were good enough for the postseason this year and Trump and Clinton were meeting for a second or third debate at the same time, which would be the most-watched program?
Probably the Phillies. When the 2008 playoff Phillies went head-to-head with a Barack Obama-John McCain debate, the Phillies attracted twice as many viewers.