56.5 Million Watched McCain And Obama’s Final Debate

56.5 Million Watched McCain And Obama’s Final Debate

The final presidential debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama drew 56.5 million U.S. viewers Wednesday night, Nielsen reported Thursday.

The TV audience for the senators’ third meeting edged past that of their first debate at the end of September, which drew 52.4 million viewers, but was easily surpassed by the audience of 63.2 million that tuned in for the second presidential debate last week.

During the previous presidential campaign, 51.2 million viewers tuned in for President Bush and John Kerry’s third debate on Oct. 13, 2004.  (View complete historical debate ratings.)

As was also the case in 2004 for the third debate, FOX did not carry the debate because of the Major League Baseball League Championship Series.  On Wednesday night, during the Obama-McCain debate, just over 8 million viewers tuned in on FOX to watch the Philadelphia Phillies face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Coverage of the McCain-Obama debate was carried live on ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC and MUN2, and on tape delay on Telemundo Wednesday night.

View the full media alert.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings by the Associated Press and Reuters, as well as in The Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Variety, Ad Age, TV Week, and Broadcasting & Cable.