A total audience of 67.2 million viewers watched the first debate between President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Oct. 3, up 28% from the first debate of the 2008 presidential election, according to Nielsen.
The debate aired on 12 networks -- ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC.
On cable news, more viewers watched the debate
on Fox News than any other channel, according to Nielsen fast
national ratings. FNC had an audience of 10.42 million total viewers from
9-10:30 p.m. ET, when the debate aired. It was also tops in the key demo of
adults 25-54 with 2.93 million. It was Fox News' highest-rated presidential
CNN was second in both measures, with 6.05 million tuning
into the channel for the debate and 2.37 million adults 25-54. MSNBC was third with
4.71 million total viewers and 1.85 million key adults.
On broadcast, ABC was the favored network by a slight
margin, averaging 11.25 million viewers to NBC's close-second 11.07 million. CBS drew 10.58 million total viewers.