42% Of Households In Top Local TV Markets Watched McCain and Obama’s Second Debate

42% Of Households In Top Local TV Markets Watched McCain and Obama’s Second Debate

The combined overall household rating for Tuesday night’s second presidential debate, in 55 of the 56 local television markets where Nielsen maintains electronic TV meters, was 42.1.

In comparison, the first debate between Senators McCain and Obama received a much lower household rating (34.7) in the top 55 local TV markets.  Last week’s V.P. debate received a 45.0 household rating in the top 55 markets.

One rating point equals 1% of the total TV audience in a given market.

The Nashville market, where the debate was held, had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 59.2, while the Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, California market had the lowest household rating: 31.8.

Several TV markets in swing states also saw significant household ratings boosts over the first presidential debate.  The Milwaukee market had the largest jump, moving up 26 spots in Nielsen’s ranking of debate viewing in the top 55 markets.  Household viewing in Indianapolis and Dayton, Ohio (+21 spots in Nielsen’s ranking), Minneapolis (+17 spots), and Cincinnati (+15 spots) also increased significantly from the first to the second McCain/Obama debate.


(by H.H. rating)

Market Market Rank

(by population size)

Household Rating

(% of U.S. households that watched debate)

1 Nashville 29 59.2
2 Memphis 48 55.7
3 Baltimore 26 55.6
4 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 38 51.4
5 Richmond-Petersburg 58 49.6
6 Indianapolis 25 49.5
7 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 43 49.4
8 Kansas City 31 49.2
9 Columbus, OH 32 48.9
10 Raleigh-Durham (Fayetvlle) 27 48.2
Source: The Nielsen Company (October 7, 2008).

View ratings for Nielsen’s 55 top local metered markets.

Coverage of the debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama aired on NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CNN, Fox News, CSPAN, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo.

National ratings for Tuesday night’s debate will be available from Nielsen Wednesday afternoon.