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Photo Illustration: Pavlo Conchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

63 million viewers tuned into the final debate between President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday evening, according to Nielsen ratings. The event drew 13% fewer viewers than the first presidential debate in late September.

Why it matters: The more measured matchup may have proven to be less exciting than the chaotic first debate.

Yes, but: Final debates historically draw smaller audiences than first debates. And the final debate this cycle still did well compared to previous final matchups.

  • For example, the final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 drew 59.2 million viewers, and the third debate between Obama and Sen. John McCain in 2008 drew 56.5 million viewers.

Details: Fox News Channel drew the most viewers this Thursday, followed by ABC, NBC, CNN, MSNBC and CBS.

  • Viewership was highest between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m., when the candidates were discussing foreign policy and health care, according to an analysis from MiQ, a marketing intelligence firm.
  • While coverage varied by network, 15 networks aired live coverage from approximately 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET, per Nielsen.

Be smart: The matchup was the second time the two candidates faced off this year, after the second debate, scheduled for October 15, was canceled after Trump said he would not participate virtually.

  • The highest-rated final debate measured in history occurred during the 2016 campaign, when more than 71 million people tuned in to watch Hillary Clinton debate Trump days before the now-president's historic and unexpected victory.

Between the lines: Nielsen ratings measure television viewership on broadcast and cable, as well as out-of-home TV viewership in places like bars and restaurants, and connected TV (CTV) viewership on digital platforms like Sling TV.

  • There's no way of measuring exactly how many people streamed the debate online or watched clips on social media, but millions more Americans presumably tuned in using other digital channels.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Jan 26, 2021 - Economy & Business

Pay TV's bleak post-pandemic outlook

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Axios Visuals

The pandemic has taken a huge toll on the Pay-TV industry, and with the near-term future of live sports in question, there are no signs of it getting better in 2021.

Why it matters: The fraught Pay-TV landscape is forcing some smaller, niche cable channels out of business altogether.

Scoop: 50,000 migrants released; few report to ICE

A law enforcement officer walks to meet migrants crossed the Rio Grande River illegally last month. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

About 50,000 migrants who crossed the southern border illegally have now been released in the United States without a court date. Although they are told to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office instead, just 13% have showed up so far, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The sizable numbers are a sign of just how overwhelmed some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border continue to be: A single stretch covering the Rio Grande Valley had 20,000 apprehensions in a week. The figures also show the shortcomings of recent emergency decisions to release migrants.

1 hour ago - World

Scoop: Israel launches maximum pressure campaign against Ben & Jerry's

A Ben & Jerry's store in Yavne, Israel. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty

The Israeli government has formed a special task force to pressure Ben & Jerry's ice cream and its parent company Unilever to reverse their decision to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The Israeli government is concerned the move by Ben & Jerry's will encourage other international companies to take similar steps to differentiate between Israel and the West Bank settlements. A classified Foreign Ministry cable, seen by Axios, makes clear the government wants to send a message.