BIG AUDIENCE FOR DEBATE — BUT MANY ARE OLD
Some 67.19 million viewers watched Wednesday’s presidential-debate tipoff between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney, Nielsen Research said on Thursday. The preliminary figure included audiences for 11 broadcast and cable networks. Of that number, only 18 percent (12.08 million) represented viewers in the 18-34 age group, while 46 percent (30.8 million) represented viewers 55 and older. Total viewership was up 28 percent from the first presidential debate in 2008 between the then-Senator Obama and Senator John McCain, when 52.42 million viewers tuned in. According to the early figures, ABC’s coverage edged out NBC’s by 2 percent (11.3 million to 11.1 million). Although the difference is so little as to be statistically insignificant, it nevertheless marks another rise in the fortunes of ABC News, whose nightly newscast with Diane Sawyer is hard on the heels of NBC’s with Brian Williams and whose Good Morning America, has already overtaken NBC’s Today show as the most-watched morning talk show. Meanwhile, CBS also made gains in its debate coverage, landing 10.6 million viewers. Following the debate, 8.9 million viewers stayed tuned to ABC for its analysis, while 8.7 million watched NBC’s. CBS’s viewers dropped to 7.0 million.