By Lisa de Moraes en The Washington Post
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton snuffed Donald Trump and Vincent Pastore Thursday night. CNN’s coverage of the debate between the two Democratic presidential candidates, held at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles, clocked 8.3 million viewers between 8 and 9:52 p.m. — that’s now the record holder for highest-rated primary debate in cable TV history.
In contrast, NBC attracted an average of around 6 million viewers between 8 and 10, with a consomme of “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office” repeats and the first hour of an original two-hour “Celebrity Apprentice,” in which the Donald offed contestant Pastore. And CNN’s debate wasn’t just watched by your grandparents. It was neck and neck with NBC among 18-to-34-year-olds, with 1.3 million and 1.4 million, respectively; and among 18-to-49-year-olds, with 3 million and 3.2 million, respectively. And what of “Lost”? That series’ return to the ABC lineup Thursday night averaged a little more than 16 million viewers. That’s its smallest season-starter ever. Last season opened with nearly 19 million tuned in, the second season averaged more than 23 million viewers and the first season unveiled with 18.6 million viewers back in fall ’04. ABC points out the show had not been on the air in eight months, after the network opted to wait until January and run this season’s episodes without interruption, a la Fox’s “24.”
When “24” returns to the lineup each season, it’s usually been off the air for eight months as well, though this year Fox is holding it indefinitely because, owing to the writers’ strike, not all 24 episodes for the season have been produced. Opposite “Lost,” a “CSI” rerun on CBS logged about 11.7 million viewers, though “Lost” clocked about 2 1/2 times the “CSI” rating among 18-to-49-year-olds, who are the hot blond chicks to Madison Avenue.