UPDATED with more details: An estimated 71.6 million people tuned in to watch the final debate of the 2016 presidential election on Wednesday. That makes it the most watched Debate 3 in TV history, eclipsing the 1992 Debate 3 that featured Billy Bush’s uncle, George H.W. Bush, Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton, and Ross Perot, and averaged 66.9M viewers across ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN. In this election cycle, Debate 3 also outstripped Debate 2’s 66.5M, though not Debate 1’s record 84M viewers.
Fox News Channel clocked the biggest audience among the 12 TV networks that aired the debate live last night, cable or broadcast; its slice of that pie is 11.3M viewers, according to Nielsen stats. FNC’s Sunday Beltway show host Chris Wallace moderated, which was a first for the 20-year-old network.
Among the TV networks GOP candidate Donald Trump says are rigging the election in concert with Hillary Clinton’s campaign, NBC led the pack in the news demo, viewers aged 25-54, who are the metric for TV news ad sales. NBC logged 4.5M news demo viewers, edging out ABC’s 4.4M.
But in all viewers, which includes voters who are older than 54 years of age, FNC bested ABC’s 11M, NBC’s 10.4M, CBS’s 10.12M, CNN’s 8.7M, Fox broadcast network’s 6.6M, MSNBC’s 5.5M, and Univision’s 1.2M. FBN contributed another 714K and CNBC 547K.
CBS clocked 3.7M viewers in the key ad-sales age bracket. FNC followed with 3.468M, narrowly edging out and CNN’s 3.447M. Fox broadcast network wasn’t far behind, with 3.1M, besting MSNBC’s 1.8M. Univision reported 1.2M news-demo viewers. FBN’s total included 169K news-demo viewers and CNBC’s take in the demo was 283K.