Opinions were split on which candidate won Wednesday night's presidential debate, but there was no doubt about which show won the night in the Nielsen Media Research overnight prime-time ratings: Lost.
ABC's new hit drama averaged a 6.4 rating/17 share of audience in the key 18-49 demo from 8 to 9, helping ABC to a win for the night with a 5.0/12 in 18-49's.
Depending on how you looked at it, the second highest rated show of the night was either the Yankees vs. Sox or Bush vs. Kerry.
Fox's coverage of the second game of the ACLS (Boston again had a chance to tie it in the eighth, but fell short), was the highest rated show at 9-10 with a 5.1/12 in 18-49s, just edging out debate coverage on NBC at a 5.0/11. But the debate was a clear winner when its coverage on the Big Three is added up. The total was an 11.2/27.
That number would be even a bit higher if the total included the Fox UPN stations that also carried the debate.
Fox came in second for the night with baseball, averaging a 4.8/12. NBC was third with a Law & Order repeat leading into the debate, averaging a 3.8/9. CBS was a distant fourth with a 2.7/7. 60 Minutes proved a poor lead-in to Dan Rather and the debate, with the show averaging a 2.0/5 to place it last at 8 p.m. behind the other Big Fours, UPN, and the WB.
UPN was fifth for the night with a 2.0/5 for Next Top Model and Kevin Hill. That average could go up a tick when the debate numbers, expected to be slightly lower, are dropped out in the national ratings.
The WB was sixth with a 1.8/5 for Smallville and The Mountain.