ABC averaged 11,040,000 Total Viewers for the first presidential debate, topping its next closest competitor by almost three million viewers. Fox News Channel finished second overall — CBS finished third, while NBC’s average was on par with CNN’s.
ABC and CBS likely benefited from strong lead-ins. CBS’ Mentalist averaged 7.9 million and ABC’s 20/20 special had 6.89 million viewers. NBC’s America’s Toughest Jobs brought in just 3.84 million viewers leading into the debate. For post-debate coverage ABC finished first, FNC second, NBC third, CNN fourth, CBS fifth, and MSNBC sixth.
The Total Viewers for the debate from 9pmET-10:38pmET: