The third and final presidential debate between contenders Senators John McCain and Barack Obama drew more than 56.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Compared to the other two debates, the audience for Wednesday night’s (Oct. 15) debate was lower than the second debate (63.2 million viewers), but higher than the first (52.4 million viewers) in September.
The audience for the third debate was also higher than the 51.2 million viewers that tuned in for the third presidential debate between President Bush and John Kerry on Oct. 13, 2004.
The debate aired on 11 broadcast and cable networks, but not on Fox, which aired the championship baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Just over 8 million viewers tuned in for the game.
In Philadelphia, the game just slightly edged out the debate with 32.3 percent of the households versus 32 percent for the debate. In Los Angeles, the debate drew the larger audience with 29.2 percent of households versus 10.2 percent of households for the game.
Among the 56 local markets, Baltimore had the largest TV audience with a 49.3 ratings, followed by Washington, D.C. (48.4).
Once again, the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif. market had the lowest debate audience with 28.1.