Packers fans choose to watch game over debate

Richard Ryman
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Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews reacts after he sacks New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

GREEN BAY - Leadership of the free world hinges on this presidential election, but not enough to distract Packers fans from their team.

Ratings for NBC's "Sunday Night Football" versus Sunday's presidential debate were at normal levels in Wisconsin and didn't do badly nationwide, despite the promise of fireworks between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Packers defeated the New York Giants 23-16 at Lambeau Field.

"Sunday Night Football" posted a 10.2 rating and garnered 15 million viewers, according to overnight ratings released on Monday. That’s about 20 percent less than last year’s broadcast in Week 5, but not nearly the decline when compared to the first presidential debate that took place during a "Monday Night Football" game on Sept. 26. About 40 percent fewer people viewed that ESPN broadcast — a game between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints — than the same Monday night timeslot a year prior.

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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks on during the town hall debate at Washington University on Sunday in St Louis.

In Milwaukee, the only Wisconsin market for which ratings were available, the Packers were watched by 43.7 percent of households and was tuned in on 58 percent of working TVs.

"It's a normal level for a Packers game," said Warren Glover, program manager for NBC-26 in Green Bay. "It is huge for 'Sunday Night Football' (in Milwaukee)."

Glover said individual ratings for the networks carrying the debate were normal for a Sunday night. Cumulatively, ratings fell by about 20 percent compared to the first, but it still dominated viewership. The decision by NBC to not carry the debate accounted for some of the decline.

The six main networks that carried the debate posted a combined 37.2 overnight, according to The Hollywood Reporter. CBS was the most viewed network in prime time network with a 10.4 rating.

A.J. Perez of USA TODAY Sports contributed.

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