UPDATE, 2:45 PM: The second presidential debate was down 1.6 million viewers from the 67.2 million who watched the October 3 match-up between President Obama and Mitt Romney. NBC was No. 1 overall with 13.8 million viewers. The 65.6 million that watched the Candy Crowley-moderated town hall-style debate last night were 2.4 million more than watched the second similarly formatted debate between Obama and John McCain in 2008. ABC followed NBC in viewership with 12.46 million and then Fox News Channel with 11.1 million. CBS had 8.9 million total viewers, and the Fox network had 4.6 million, according to Nielsen. NBC also was tops in network post-debate analysis, followed by ABC and CBS. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, CNN, FNC, MSNBC, Current TV and CNBC all ran the debate live from 9-10:45 PM ET on Tuesday, with Univision and Telemundo broadcasting coverage on tape delay.
PREVIOUSLY, 11:30 AM: Fox News Channel topped the ratings among cable news networks for last night’s second matchup between President Obama and Mitt Romney, just like it did with the first presidential debate. Fox News drew 11.1 million viewers for the 9-10:30 PM ET debate Tuesday, more than rivals MSNBC and CNN put together. The viewer total ties Fox News’ all-time high rating set by the 2008 Vice Presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden.
Moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, the town hall-style debate was way up from the 8.8 million who watched the similar formatted second face-off between then-Senator Obama and John McCain on October 7, 2008. Fox News pulled in 3.46 million in the adults 25-54 demographic last night, CNN came second last night with 5.77 million viewers, 2.58 million in the 25-54 demo. MSNBC had 4.87 million viewers, 1.9 million in the demo.
The second debate in 2008 between Obama and McCain was seen by a total of 63.2 million viewers, with ABC No. 1 among all broadcasters with an audience of 13.2 million. The first debate this year between Obama and Romney on October 3 was seen by 67.2 million viewers watching on 12 broadcasters. That was 28% from the first Obama-McCain debate in 2008. Fast nationals this morning had last night’s debate on par with the October 3 debate, with NBC in the lead among the main networks. We will update when more solid numbers become available later today.