With its coverage of Tuesday's Presidential debate from Hofstra University, Fox News Channel not only handily won the night versus its cable sector competitors, but nearly matched its all-time audience high.
Fox News Channel averaged 11.08 million viewers during its presentation of the Barack Obama-Mitt Romney town hall square-off between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., according to Nielsen. The Oct. 16 telecast almost equaled FNC’s coverage of the 2008 Vice Presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, which was watched by just under 11.10 million.
FNC’s Tuesday night tally trailed the 13.8 million and 12.5 million viewers who saw the debate on NBC and ABC, respectively, from 9 p.m. to 10:39 p.m., according to Nielsen. CBS was fourth overall with 8.9 million watchers, while CNN stood fifth with nearly 5.8 million and MSNBC sixth with some 4.9 million. Fox Broadcasting followed with 4.6 million.
An average of 65.6 million people watched the second debate on a dozen networks: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNN, FNC, MSNBC, Current TV and CNBC, according to Nielsen. That total was off 2.4% from the initial Obama-Romney confrontation that drew 67.2 million on Oct. 3. However, Tuesday night's town hall tussle was 3.8% above the 63.2 million who witnessed the second 2008 Presidential debate between Obama and GOP candidate John McCain.
Among adults 25 to 54, the three broadcasters set the pace: NBC was tops with 6.8 million of those viewers, versus 4.7 million for the Alphabet Network and 3.6 million for Black Rock.
FNC was fourth with 3.5 million in the so-called news demo, averaging 900,000 more than MSNBC. CNN’s debate coverage scored with 1.9 million in that group.
Overall, FNC and MSNBC both registered gains in viewers and the demo from the Oct. 3 Romney-Obama encounter. For its part, CNN lost overall audience, but improved in the demo.