CNBC said its Wednesday-night telecast of a debate among Republican candidates for U.S. President lured an average of 14 million viewers.
But, according to CNN, the event is still likely to rank as CNBC's highest-rated program in its history.
Preliminary data, which is subject to change, indicates that about 10% of homes with TV sets tuned in for the two-hour debate on Wednesday night. Fox's debate in August drew about 16% of those homes and CNN's debate in September drew about 15%.
Total viewership figures for the CNBC face-off will be released on Thursday afternoon. The prime time debate is likely to top ten million viewers.
The undercard debate at 6 p.m. was much lower-rated, with about 1.3% of homes tuned in.
Day in and day out, CNBC has a smaller audience than Fox and CNN, which made it hard for the network to match the earlier GOP events.
CNBC's debate was also up against very stiff television competition: Game two of the World Series.
The performance of the debate moderators was widely pilloried, by both the candidates and commenters on social media, which spurred speculation that viewers might drop out before the end of the event at 10:15 p.m. ET.
CNBC charged $250,000 for 30-second ads during the debate, according to an NBCUniversal source.
The Republican presidential debate took over Twitter (TWTR.N) on Wednesday night, with #GOPdebate trending far more than #WorldSeries, according to data by social media analytics provider Hashtags.org.
The trend may indicate the debate among GOP hopefuls trumped the baseball World Series broadcast in TV viewership.
Throughout the debate, which began around 8:20 p.m. EDT on CNBC (CMCSA.O) and lasted two hours, #GOPdebate trended much higher than #WorldSeries, according to the data.