NEW YORK — The Democratic primary debate simulcast on PBS and CNN averaged 8.03 million viewers, on par with the audiences for recent showdowns between the party's 2016 White House contenders.
PBS produced Thursday's debate, which was anchored by NewsHour anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. CNN paid a license fee to simulcast the matchup between Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders in Milwaukee and ran commercials on its air during the breaks.
CNN, which promoted the debate throughout the day, drew 4.1 million viewers from 9 to 11 p.m. The event averaged 3.9 million on PBS stations.
The total was in line with the viewing level for the Democratic primary debates that aired on CBS (8.55 million on Nov. 14) and ABC (8.03 million on Dec. 15).
The CNN/PBS figure was well above the audience for the meeting between the candidates on MSNBC on Feb. 4 (4.48 million), which is a bit of an outlier as it was a last-minute addition to the party's debate schedule.
The top-rated Democratic debate so far remains the first meeting of the candidates on CNN, which was watched by an average of 15.4 million viewers Oct. 13.
The Democratic primary debates have not scored as high as the Republican events that have become TV attractions in large part due to frontrunner Donald Trump's presence in a race with a larger and more unsettled field of candidates. On Feb. 6, the Republican primary debate on ABC scored 13.18 million viewers.
The Republican contenders meet again at 9 tonight in Greenville, S.C. The debate on CBS will be moderated by the network's political director, John Dickerson.