65.6 million tuned to 2nd presidential debate

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NielsenAn estimated 65.6 million people tuned in to watch the second debate between incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney on Tuesday, October 16. That’s down a bit from the estimated 67.2 million people that watched the first presidential debate on Wednesday, October 3. Again, the 55+ demo saw the lion;s share of viewers.


For the vice presidential debate, according to Nielsen, 51.479M people aged two or greater tuned in. That is roughly 16M less than were on hand for the first of three debates.

Folks are paying more attention than the last presidential election: The second presidential debate, and third overall, in this political season’s debate quartet netted 2.4 million more viewers than the second presidential debate between then Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain in 2008.

The latest town hall-style debate, hosted by Hofstra University in New York and moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley, was carried across 12 networks.

While coverage varied by network, 10 networks aired live coverage from approximately 9:00PM to 10:45PM while Univision and Telemundo aired coverage on tape delay. The chart below highlights the sum of the average audience for these networks.

2012 Presidential Debates
Sum of Networks Live + Same Day
October 3, 2012 October 16, 2012
Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
All Households
40.4
46,242,000
40.0
45,589,000
Persons 2+
23.1
67,187,000
22.7
65,635,000
Persons 18-34
17.8
12,079,000
16.5
11,242,000
Persons 35-54
24.7
19,929,000
24.3
19,426,000
Persons 55+
39.6
30,811,000
39.4
30,661,000
2008 Presidential Debates
September 26, 2008 October 2, 2008
Rating Number of Viewers Rating Number of Viewers
Persons 2+
18.1
52,418,000
21.9
63,233,000

2012 Networks Included:
Debate 1
– ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC
Debate 2
– ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, TEL, UNI, PBS, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC

2008 Networks Included:
Debate 1
– ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC
Debate 2
– ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC