The figure from Nielsen is down 2.5 million viewers from the first FBN debate on Nov. 10, which pulled a record high 13.5 million viewers for the cable network. It's less than half of the largest debate audience of the 2016 presidential campaign when the Republicans' first meeting pulled in 24 million viewers for
FBN's audience was still substantial compared to previous primary seasons. The largest audience for a Republican primary debate in the 2012 cycle was 7.6 million.
The large audiences for the 2016-primary debates have been attributed to the presence of front-runner
On Thursday, Trump's confrontations with his chief rival, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, provided some of the most memorable debate fireworks yet in the campaign season. But more of the audience tuning into the debates will be Republican voters still looking to decide on a candidate.
FBN has the smallest reach of any of the networks carrying the Republican debates, with 82 million cable and satellite homes. The network is still new to many of those homes as many carriage deals have taken effect just in the past year.
The network's online stream of the debate, made available for free over FoxBusiness.com, peaked with 1.16 million concurrent users.