As forecast, Monday’s third and final presidential debate attracted fewer viewers than did the previous two meetings of the candidates.
An estimated 59.2 million people tuned in for the final faceoff between President Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee. This election cycle’s first debate attracted 67 million people and the second, 66 million.
Still, Monday’s crowd had nearly 3 million more viewers than watched the third presidential debate in 2008. All three debates scored significantly larger audiences than did the ones four years ago.
Monday’s debate was pitted against two big sporting events, though, and everyone got bloodied in the ratings.
“Monday Night Football” on ESPN attracted an average of 10.7 million people – the franchise’s second-smallest crowd this season. And on Fox, Game 7 of the Major League Baseball National League Championship Series clocked 8.1 million – also on the low side.
Fox News Channel, however, scored the biggest audience in its 16-year history – 11.5 million viewers – in covering Monday’s debate, as the Fox broadcast network bowed out to cover the baseball game.
The Fox broadcast network had carried the past two presidential debates and the veep debate, with Fox News Channel’s Shep Smith at the anchor desk.
NBC scored the largest audience: 12.4 million, followed by ABC’s 11.7 million. Although the debate, which focused on foreign policy, was moderated by CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, his network trailed with an audience of 8.4 million.