Nearly 63 million viewers tuned in to the broadcast and three cable news networks Sept. 30 to watch the first debate between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).
NBC grabbed the biggest audience for the 92-minute debate with 17.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
Despite the turmoil at CBS News, the network still collected the second-best audience with 13.5 million viewers. ABC was third with 11.5 million viewers.
Fox News nearly doubled its cable competitors CNN and MSNBC, with 9.6 million viewers. Sister network Fox Broadcasting also carried the debate, drawing 5.2 million viewers. CNN posted 4.4 million viewers and MSNBC trailed with a 1.2 million viewers.
When the debating was over, NBC remained the primary destination with 13.4 million viewers. ABC perked up to second place with 10 million viewers and CBS slipped to 9.4 million viewers. On cable, Fox News registered 7.9 million viewers for its post-debate report and CNN posted 4.4 million viewers.