Insights

Final Presidential Debate Draws 59.2 million Viewers
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Final Presidential Debate Draws 59.2 million Viewers

An estimated 59.2 million people tuned in to watch the third and final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Monday, October 22.

The foreign policy-focused debate, hosted by Lynn University in Florida and moderated by CBS’ Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, was carried across 11 networks.

While coverage varied by network, 10 networks aired live coverage from approximately 9:00PM to 10:30PM while Telemundo aired coverage on tape delay. The chart below highlights the sum of the average audience for these networks.

The debate was up against two sporting events—Monday Night Football on ESPN, which had 10.7 million people (P2+) tuning in and Game 7 of the MLB NLCS on FOX, which had 8.1 million people watching.

2012 Presidential Debates

Sum of Networks Live + Same Day

Oct. 3, 2012 Oct. 16, 2012 Oct. 22, 2012
Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
All Households
40.4
46,242,000
40.0
45,589,000
35.9
41,181,000
Persons 2+
23.1
67,187,000
22.7
65,635,000
20.5
59,235,000
Persons 18-34
17.8
12,079,000
16.5
11,242,000
14.2
9,591,000
Persons 35-54
24.7
19,929,000
24.3
19,426,000
21.4
17,138,000
Persons 55+
39.6
30,811,000
39.4
30,661,000
36.5
28,483,000

2008 Presidential Debates

Sept. 26, 2008 Oct. 7, 2008 Oct. 15, 2008
Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
Persons 2+
18.1
52,418,000
21.9
63,233,000
19.6
56,523,000

2012 Networks Included:

Debate 1 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC

Debate 2 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC

Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC

2008 Networks Included:

Debate 1– ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC

Debate 2 – ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC

Debate 3 – ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, MUN2 – The MLB Playoffs aired on FOX broadcast opposite the debate