Most Watched Debate on ABC, Fox News

Sep 29, 2008  •  Post A Comment

By making a night of it, ABC came out a winner Friday, drawing 11.04 million viewers for the first of three presidential debates between Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain. The network led all broadcast and cable outlets for the debate and the post-debate analysis.
According to Nielsen Media Research, 52.42 million viewers watched the debate on 11 broadcast and cable networks.
In addition, the special “20/20” in which Diane Sawyer profiled the two candidates racked up the network’s largest audience (6.89 million total viewers) in the time period in nearly two years, according to national data from Nielsen.
ABC’s debate audience was up 10% from the 10.05 million viewers who watched the last Friday-night presidential debate on the network on Oct. 8, 2004.
The post-debate analysis with ABC’s Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos averaged 8.27 million viewers, giving the network a significant lead over NBC’s 7.12 million viewers and CBS’ 6.14 million viewers in the same time frame.
Among cable networks, Fox News Channel attracted the largest audience for the debate and the analysis following. The debate, from 9 p.m. through 10:38 p.m. EDT, averaged 8.21 million viewers, making it the cable channel’s second-highest-rated presidential debate ever, behind the 9.56 million viewers who tuned in for the Bush-Kerry faceoff on Sept. 30, 2004.
CNN’s audience for the debate was 7.14 million viewers. MSNBC averaged 3.92 million viewers.
Analysis from the end of the debate through 11 p. m. was watched by 7.41 million on Fox, 6.50 million on CNN and 3.28 million on MSNBC.


  1. WE turn to *FOX to hear their begging for us to accept J.McCain.

  2. What are the numbers for C-SPAN and PBS?

  3. Most folks were probably watching FOX just to hear how much Sean Hannity would be crying and spinning everything Sen Obama said.

  4. As usual, Neilsen leaves out the numbers from PBS, and Michele blindly accepts them.
    “PBS said Saturday that it averaged a 1.7 rating, which wasn’t included in the Nielsen total.”

  5. @Sid-
    The reason the article leaves out C-SPAN and PBS is that Nielsen only reports ratings for commercial networks. Since neither C-SPAN nor PBS runs commercials (well, PBS does, but for whatever reason they don’t count), Nielsen ignores them in most of their ratings reports.

  6. If you add CNN + MSNBC more people didn’t watch Fixed News than did. Then figure the C-SPAN and PBS people and it’s even higher. Murdoch’s empire lost $2 Billion over the last year.
    I just don’t understand why anyone watches them unless it’s to laugh at how stupid they are. When will these people be too ashamed to continue?


  8. MSNBC is so biased its not funny.
    CNN is getting almost as bad.
    ABC & CBS is getting hard to watch.
    Fox is the only place I really stay tuned in to anymore. Im an independent and have not decided who Im voting for. Fox just seems to give a more balanced (overall) report.

  9. I believe the American people need to be extremely attentive. McCain has spent prodominant of his debate disputing, misinterpeting, or even rewording what Obama’s debate has established. I found that McCain lacked direction, his response to the questions and even times his rebutle were contridictidly established. I am still not clear after 2 debates surrounding the same issues what Senator McCain will do for the contry????
    I believe Obama’s composure alone, demonstrates the calm, collected, educated approach that is most important to the American people as a Presidental leader.
    I do not believe at this point that enough people have educated themselves enough on what the real concerns for North America have become.
    Obama made the best point regarding this.
    He stated the well being of your own country-this being your own Economy. If you are unstable on your own. What service can you provide the remainder of the world with???? Nuclear missles and energy will not repair and unwildling economy.
    Obama is the man for the job!

  10. Jaclyn.. How can I take your opinion seriously when you cannot even spell country??? The bleeding heart so-called Americans are going to destroy this great FREE country. It’s too bad … Democrates need to go back to the day when American Liberalism meant something. Everything this man stands for is not what Liberalism is about.

  11. Good Evening:
    I have been watching the debate of Senator McCain and Obama this evening, which is still going on.
    I am really appalled at how much more time is given to Obama as opposed to McCain. It is so obvious that the ultra Leftist Media is favoring this Democratic contender.
    It is really a shame to see that our great nation is going down to a lesser great Nation that our forefathers fought so gallantly to build.
    Donald J. Biron

  12. MSNBC is the presidential campaign headquarter for Obama. They should give him a job there as president.

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