Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate contained little of the fireworks of the first presidential debate, and as it turns out drew just a fraction of the audience.

That audience was still big — about 35.6 million people spread across the Big 4 broadcast networks, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and Fox Business. PBS added about 1.5 million viewers, bringing the total to 37.2 million. But, as is usually the case with the vice presidential candidates, their debate drew a smaller audience than those of their running mates — much smaller, in this case.

The total audience is 56 percent smaller than the record 84.4 million who watched the first face-off between major-party presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It’s also the smallest audience for a vice presidential debate since 2000, when 28.5 million people watched Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman argue at one another.

In the last presidential election, 51.4 million people tuned into the debate between VP nominees Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

NBC led all networks with 7.03 million viewers, followed by CBS, 6.46 million; ABC, 6.15 million; Fox News, 6.08 million; CNN, 4.17 million; MSNBC, 3.13 million; FOX, 2.21 million; PBS, 1.54 million; and Fox Business, 392,000.

Posted by:Rick Porter

Rick Porter has been covering TV since the days when networks sent screeners on VHS, one of which was a teaser for the first season of "American Idol." He's left-handed, makes a very solid grilled cheese and has been editor of TV by the Numbers since October 2015. He lives in Austin.

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