Second Presidential Debate Draws 63.2 million

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Tuesday night’s Presidential debate averaged 63.2 million viewers, with ABC and CNN leading the way among their broadcast and cable competitors.

The so-called town hall meeting between Democratic nominee Barack Obama and GOP hopeful John McCain was the 11th most-watched debate of all-time, when the Oct. 2 Vice Presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which tallied 69.9 million viewers, was factored in, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

The Oct. 7 forum, moderated by NBC News Tom Brokaw at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn., outpaced the first McCain-Obama meeting on Sept. 26, which drew 52.4 million, by nearly 21%. Last night’s verbal sparring, televised by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, beat the second debate between President George Bush and John Kerry on Oct. 8, 2004, which averaged 46.7 million watchers, by 35%.

As for the individual services, ABC made it three for three with the presidential and VP debates. The alphabet network counted 13.2 million viewers from 9 p.m. to 10:35 p.m. (ET), 2.3 million more than NBC’s 10.9 million average, according to Nielsen data.

CBS was third with 9.44 million, just ahead of CNN’s 9.23 million. Fox News Channel was next at 8.77 million, while broadcast brethren Fox had 5.3 million. MSNBC was seventh at almost 3.77 million.

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