New viewership data on last night’s presidential debate reveals that the cable news networks saw a strong turnout, with Fox News Channel leading the pack as the debate set a record for overall viewing.
The Hill cites early Nielsen figures indicating FNC averaged 11.4 million total viewers along with 3.5 million in the key news demo of viewers 25-54. CNN trailed in total viewers with 9.8 million, but topped Fox News in the demo with 4.43 million.
MSNBC averaged 4.895 million total viewers.
Updated figures are in for the broadcast networks, where the total for CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox combined swelled to 45.8 million total viewers, up from 42.4 million reported in early data.
The updated figures show NBC leading all broadcast networks with 16.9 million total viewers, followed by ABC with 12.6 million, CBS with 11.3 million and Fox with 5.1 million.
The overall viewer total of 45.8 million for the broadcast networks tops the 39.8 million who turned out for the first debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.
Citing Nielsen data, CNN reports that the viewer total for the 11 TV channels that carried the debate live was 81.4 million, setting a record for the 60-year history of televised debates. The latest total does not include PBS — which averaged 3 million — or C-SPAN, which is not rated.
The Nielsen total tallies only traditional TV outlets viewed at home, with CNN noting that “many millions also watched the debate via live streams on the Web.”