Debate Ratings: Most Channels Up From Round One, Fox News Poised to Tie Record Palin-Biden ’08 Debate

By Alex Weprin 

The second Presidential debate between Pres. Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney delivered massive ratings last night.

As it did for the first two debates, Fox News led the way among the cable news channels garnering 11.1 million viewers, on par with its most-watched telecast ever, the Sarah Palin-Joe Biden debate in 2008. CNN’s Candy Crowley was the moderator of the debate, but it did not appear to give a significant ratings boost to the channel. It was the only cabler to lose viewers compared to the first Presidential debate, and was down significantly from the second Presidential debate in 2008. MSNBC was third in cable news, but was able to improve its viewership compared to both 2008 and the first debate two weeks ago.

All three channels were up in the demo compared to the first debate of the cycle, with all three hitting highs.

Among the broadcasters, preliminarily ABC and NBC are up compared to the first debate, with CBS down. The numbers will adjust when finals are released.

Update: NBC News was the most-watched network for both the debate and the post-debate analysis.

Update 2: 65.6 million people watched last night. Those numbers are here.

The numbers:

Cable News, 9-10:30PM:

FNC: 11,102,117 in total viewers / 3,455,243 adults 25-54
CNN: 5,770,449 in total viewers / 2,583,272 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 4,876,967 in total viewers / 1,913,571 adults 25-54

8-11 PM, Cable News primetime:

FNC: 9,000,869 in total viewers / 2,687,147 adults 25-54
CNN: 4,343,325 in total viewers / 1,896,333 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 3,884,487 in total viewers / 1,489,602 adults 25-54

9-10:39PM Broadcast (based on Nielsen Fast Nationals):

NBC: 13,817,973 total viewers
ABC: 12,463,912 total viewers
CBS: 8,921,671 total viewers

10:39-11PM, Broadcast post-debate analysis:

NBC: 11.367 million total viewers / 5.564 million adults 25-54
ABC: 9.516 million total viewers / 3.621 million adults 25-54
CBS: 6.994 million total viewers / 2.728 million adults 25-54