The second GOP debate, more than an hour longer than the first, was watched by 22.94 million viewers on CNN last night, according to Nielsen Fast National numbers. That’s only 1 million fewer viewers than the first debate on Fox News drew on August 6, which set a record as the most-watched non-sports cable program ever. The CNN debate from 8:15 p.m.-11:15 p.m. ET averaged 6.9 million in the A25-54 demo. Fox’s debate averaged 7.9 million.
The early debate at 6 p.m. ET–with the four lower-tier GOP candidates–averaged 6.3 million viewers on CNN. Fox News’ early debate averaged 6.1 million.
Last night’s debate is CNN’s most-watched program ever, topping a “Larry King Live” special with Ross Perot and Al Gore which drew 16.8 million total viewers in November 1993.
The most-watched GOP primary debate of the 2012 cycle was on the night of Dec. 10, 2011 on ABC when 7.63 million watched. Going back to the 2008 cycle–the last time there were open Democratic and Republican tickets–the most-watched GOP debate drew 7.350 million on Jan. 5, 2008 on ABC.
The next debate will also be on CNN. It’ll be the first democratic match-up and will take place at the Wynn Las Vegas, Tuesday, Oct. 13. The next GOP debate will be Wednesday, Oct. 28 on CNBC. The business/economy-focused debate will be held at the University of Colorado-Boulder.