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TV Column
Posted at 05:52 PM ET, 10/17/2012

Nearly 66 million watch Obama show up for second debate with Romney


Obama and Romney during the second debate. (SHANNON STAPLETON - REUTERS)

Nearly 66 million people watched President Obama slug it out with GOP candidate Mitt Romney at Tuesday night meme-tastic town-hall style debate, across 12 television networks, Nielsen reports.

 Tuesday’s performance, guest-starring Binders Full of Women, attracted an audience about 1 million shy of the crowd that had witnessed the two men battle over Big Bird two weeks earlier.

 But Tuesday’s audience came in 2.4 million viewers ahead of the second, similarly town-hall-ish debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain in ’08.

More than 11 million viewers watched Tuesday’s duel on Fox News Channel. FNC virtually matched its biggest telecast crowd ever, achieved during the ‘08 veep debate between then Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

 But FNC’s was not the biggest gathering as the two men tangled at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

 NBC led the TV pack, attracting about 13.8 million people — including, we’re guessing, a good chunk of the 12 million who’d just finished watching NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” on the east coast and/or were planning to watch “The Voice after the debate on the West Coast.

 Another 12.5 million picked ABC, and just under 9 million went with CBS.

 Meanwhile, Fox broadcast network logged 4.6 million viewers, which is a slightly bigger, if older, crowd than it enjoyed the previous week on the night with “The Mindy Project” and “New Girl.”

 Tuesday’s numbers show a major redistribution of the cable news audience, compared to the second presidential debate in ’08.

 Overall FNC, CNN and MSNBC cumed a debate crowd virtually identical to ’08. But, back then, CNN led the cable news pack, edging out FNC and trouncing MSNBC.

 This time, CNN, whose chief political correspondent Candy Crowley moderated Tuesday’s debate, trailed FNC with just 5.8 million viewers. CNN edged out an improved MSNBC, which logged  4.9 million.

 Four years ago, 63.2 million people watched the second, town-hall debate between Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, Nielsen said Wednesday.

 Earlier this month, more than 67 million people watched the first presidential debate across 11 broadcast and cable networks — nearly 15 million more people than had watched the first presidential debate in ’08.

Last week’s veep debate, on the other hand, with its audience of 51 million, predictably fell far short of the 73 million who sat glued to their TVs in ’08 to watch Biden take on Palin. It remains the second most watched debate in U.S. history, presidential or vice presidential, behind only the 81 million who watched GOP candidate Ronald Reagan mow over President Jimmy Carter in 1980 ..

 

By  |  05:52 PM ET, 10/17/2012

 
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