First Presidential Debate Draws 67.2 Million Viewers, Up 28% From 2008

Categories: 1-Featured,Broadcast TV,Cable TV

Written By

October 4th, 2012

via nielsenwire.

An estimated 67.2 million people watched Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama debate Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate on Wednesday, October 3.

The debate was carried live from the University of Denver in Colorado across 11 networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer, host of NewsHour on PBS.

While coverage varied by network, 11 networks aired live coverage from approximately 9:00 PM to 10:30 PM while Telemundo aired coverage on tape delay. The chart below highlights the sum of the average audience for these networks.

Viewership to last night’s debate was up 28 percent compared to the first presidential debate in 2008 between then Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John McCain.

2012 Networks Included:

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

  • greg

    Is this an average, by the minute number or did 67.2 million people watch atleast part of the debate

  • SarahL

    Before the Republican crazies show up. It is great to see our fellow citizens are paying attention to election.

  • Oliver

    Interesting to note that the first debate of 2008 was on a Friday rather than a Thursday.

  • Ultima

    Is this an average, by the minute number or did 67.2 million people watch atleast part of the debate

    That’s definitely average viewership based on the preliminary broadcast and final cable numbers.

  • Pat Walsh

    Yawn…..Obama was schooled by a smarter, better prepared candidate. No Liberal Media or Teleprompter to hide behind. Yeah Sarah I’m a PROUD Republican crazy. Enjoy your food stamp president before he’s evicted.

  • Ryan


    Looks like a cume, total number since Nielsen is saying “An estimated 67.2 million people watched…”

  • TL

    Hey SarahL,

    I bet a majority of the 67M were those “crazy republicans” who are actually engaged in what is going on in this country. Your liberal friends were more interested in watching shows like “the x factor” or “desperate housewives of New Jersey”. We should all be so proud of that.

  • capslocke

    @Pat Walsch,
    This is a ratings website, for the purpose of sharing ratings, not for the purpose of sharing your political beliefs, and ESPECIALLY not for the purpose of spewing hate against any group of people. There’s a place for that, but that place is not TVBTN.

  • Psy

    Republicans are so vile and hateful.

  • TL



  • USAmerica1st

    Agree, @capslocke, we should stay on the topic of ratings and shows. There are many political websites.

  • CWsucks

    Wow, TL, you are so clever.

  • Stephen

    When you factor in online viewers this debate was watched by north of 70 miillion people…
    CNN says 1.2 million people watched on or their apps…
    Youtube says “Millions” but won’t give an exact figure..
    AOL says 400,000 people watched on their sites..
    WSJ said 100,000 wached across their various outlets(including the roku app).
    Fox News declined to say how many watched on their site or their apps…

  • David

    So 70 million+ people saw Obama stink up the joint.

  • Bookworm

    Glad to know people tuned in but this is not good news for Obama. I know way too many people who watch the first debate and bail on the rest. I do not know the ratings on future debates but I’m sure the first is always the highest rated. Anything from here will be either drowned out or not know by most. This was Obama’s chance to throw the first punch and really come out strong against Romney.

    In the land of ratings, it’s always easier to come out strong and then slow down and find a groove but it’s harder to come out soft and expect to build from that. I will say that stands for Presidential debates.

    All in all, our President seemed like he didn’t want to be there. People could care less what was actually said, how you say it is what matters. Obama looked confused and unprepared.

    Al Gore gave me the laugh of the day when he blamed Denver’s altitude. Says the man that invented the internet!! (lol).

  • John

    Hey, Capslocke, while I agree with your statement, you neglected to mention that SarahL started it by calling Republicans “crazies.” If that doesn’t happen, then PatWalsch doesn’t respond. Pay attention.

  • Bob

    Let’s just hope that we have President Romney in November. We need to fix the mess of the last 4 years desperately. Funny all the jealous liberals upset that the Republicans showed them up last night. Finally we will get the country back from this nightmare!!!!

  • Jordan

    Mr. Romney killed it!! :-)

  • TL



  • Ralph Hahn

    @Psy: >>> Republicans are so vile and hateful <<<

    You wanna see vile and hateful? Check out some of the lib-Dem bloggers out there. There is one run by an atheist who had written a vile and hateful article called "Republican Jesus."

    And, those of you in Fantasyland who think that after last night's Obamacle, that Obama will win the Election, are dreaming. You always have the partisans hold the party line despite how their candidate did. But last night and today, we heard from all of the liberals, Democrats, and Lamestream biased media outlets basically call Romney the winner.

    Dopey fatman Al Bore actually blamed Obama's performance of the altitude in the Mile-High City as a factor for his fellow Democrat blowing it big time.

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