09 July 2019


When millions of potential voters tuned in to the first Democratic Presidential debates of the upcoming 2020 election season, MiQ was ready to see the results. Using our integration with Vizio, we analyzed the viewers of the debates to understand who tuned in on each night, how long they watched for, where they lived, and ultimately identified some potential strategies for how campaigns can adjust their outreach strategy to maximize outreach to this core bloc of first-debate viewers.

This analysis is based on real-time TV viewership habits from a total database of 11.3M smart TV-enabled households, nationally.

Overall and Nightly Viewership: 

Analyzing our database of 11.3M households, we identified 612,000 distinct households that watched the Democratic debates on either night, and we saw similar volume of households tuning in on Wednesday (407k households) and Thursday (437k households). 

Interestingly, while 35% of debate viewers (219k) watched at least some of the debate on both evenings, 30% of viewers (187k) watched Wednesday only. Thursday saw similar results with 35% of viewers (218k) tuning in for Thursday only. That means the random debate draw potentially had a massive impact on which voters candidates had access to.

Telemundo Viewers

Approximately 71,000 households in our household sample tuned in via Telemundo to watch the debates in Spanish. 

These viewers were more likely than viewers overall to only watch only one night. Indeed 41% of all Telemundo debate viewers watched Thursday night only - meaning a significant portion of these viewers missed Julian Castro's messaging around Section 1325 repeal, and the in-Spanish response from Senator Booker and former Congressman O'Rourke.

An engaged audience

Overall, we saw that viewers who tuned in to at least one of the debates watched for 66 minutes on average - note there was approximately 4 hours of coverage total across the two nights. Viewers were likely to spend longer viewing on Thursday night (51 minutes on average) than on Wednesday night (46 minutes, on average).


Geographically, we saw the greatest engagement from inside the beltway. In DC, 16% of the DC TV's in our database tuned in for the debate at least one night. Rhode Island (13%), New York (11.5%), New Jersey (11%), Maine (11%) and Maryland (11%) round out the top 5 engaged states based on proportion of TV's tuning in to the debate.

In the key primary states and swing states, we saw strong engagement.



Campaigns looking to strategically leverage debate viewership data for messaging efforts should consider the following: 

  • Reach households you know tuned in to the debate: Use digital messaging in the form of display or pre-roll ads to reach users you know tuned in for at least part of the debate.  
  • Reach the households who missed a specific night or moment: With such large proportions of each night’s viewership seeing only that content, candidates need to consider how they can target the households that their performance.
  • Target debate viewers from specific states: Given the primary calendar, there is obviously a greater sense of urgency in reaching viewers in some states over others. Leverage this data to identify viewers in key early primary states for targeted outreach. 
  • Reach viewers who tuned in to watch in Spanish, and particularly if you were on the first evening: Based on our analysis, 41% of all viewers who tuned in via Telemundo, watched Thursday only. Use this data to target all viewers who watched in Spanish, or target only those that missed night one.

About CAST

MiQ CAST is a unique analytics and activation tool, powered by a partnership with TV manufacturer Vizio. With our partnership, MiQ gets real-time TV viewership data on over 11.3M households who own Vizio TV’s nationally. Leveraging this data we're able to understand which households have been exposed to specific content and develop digital targeting tactics that retargets users based on having been exposed to specific TV content.