The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump drew massive audiences on Sept. 26, with more than 80 million people tuning in. No surprise, then, that the debate and several associated shows are all over the cable rankings for the week.

Fox News had the biggest overall audience on cable for the debate, 11.43 million, while CNN scored the highest 18-49 rating, 3.6. The debate also had the effect of driving down “Monday Night Football” on ESPN. The game’s 3.1 in adults 18-49 was off 31 percent from the previous week’s 4.5, and its 8.05 million viewers is believed to be the smallest “MNF” audience ever.

Top 25 cable shows (including ties) in adults 18-49  for Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2016

Rank Show Net Day Time 18-49 Rating 18-49 Viewers (000s)
1 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE CNN Mon. 9:03 PM 3.6 4,576
2 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – FALCONS/SAINTS ESPN Mon. 8:15 PM 3.1 3,980
3 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – DOLPHINS/BENGALS NFLN Thurs. 8:27 PM 3.0 3,857
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE FNC Mon. 9:03 PM 2.3 3,015
5 DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA CNN Mon. 10:38 PM 2.2 2,799
DEBATE ANALYSIS FNC Mon. 10:40 PM 2.1 2,676
AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE FX Weds. 10:00 PM 1.7 2,169
8 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC Sun. 9:00 PM 1.6 2,037
9 SPORTSCENTER ESPN Mon. 11:37 PM 1.3 1,632
FEAR THE WALKING DEAD – F AMC Sun. 9:59 PM 1.3 1,616
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL POSTGAME NFLN Thurs. 11:20 PM 1.2 1,587
12 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREGAME NFLN Thurs. 8:00 PM 1.2 1,517
ANDERSON COOPER 360 CNN Mon. 8:00 PM 1.2 1,494
COLLEGE FOOTBALL – STANFORD/WASHINGTON ESPN Fri. 8:55 PM 1.1 1,467
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MSNBC Mon. 9:03 PM 1.1 1,425
SOUTH PARK COM Weds. 10:00 PM 1.1 1,398
THE KELLY FILE FNC Mon. 11:00 PM 1.1 1,382
LOVE & HIP HOP HOLLYWOOD VH1 Mon. 8:00 PM 1.1 1,349
19 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 1 1,249
COLLEGE FOOTBALL – STANFORD/WASHINGTON ESPN Sat. 7:05 PM 0.9 1,213
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Weds. 9:30 PM 0.9 1,131
DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA CNN Mon. 12:00 AM 0.9 1,127
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Weds. 9:00 PM 0.8 1,073
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Sun. 10:00 PM 0.8 1,058
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Tues. 9:30 PM 0.8 1,049
DEBATE ANALYSIS MSNBC Mon. 10:40 PM 0.8 1,032
BASKETBALL WIVES LA VH1 Sun. 8:00 PM 0.8 1,021
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Tues. 10:00 PM 0.8 1,019
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 9:00 PM 0.8 1,016
FAMILY GUY ADSM Mon. 11:30 PM 0.8 1,004
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Weds. 10:00 PM 0.8 1,002
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Sun. 9:30 PM 0.8 1,000
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Sun. 10:30 PM 0.8 1,000
WESTWORLD – P HBO Sun. 9:02 PM 0.8 987
FAMILY GUY ADSM Weds. 11:30 PM 0.8 983
FAMILY GUY ADSM Sat. 11:00 PM 0.8 982
THE BIG BANG THEORY TBS Tues. 10:30 PM 0.8 963

 

Top 25 cable shows in viewers for Sept. 26-Oct. 2, 2016

Rank Show Net Day Time Viewers (000s)
1 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE FNC Mon. 9:03 PM 11,429
2 DEBATE ANALYSIS FNC Mon. 10:40 PM 9,978
3 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE CNN Mon. 9:03 PM 9,962
4 MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – FALCONS/SAINTS ESPN Mon. 8:15 PM 8,047
5 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL – DOLPHINS/BENGALS NFLN Thurs. 8:27 PM 7,897
6 DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA CNN Mon. 10:38 PM 6,935
7 THE KELLY FILE FNC Mon. 11:00 PM 5,368
8 PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE MSNBC Mon. 9:03 PM 4,915
9 THE O’REILLY FACTOR FNC Mon. 8:00 PM 4,843
10 DEBATE ANALYSIS MSNBC Mon. 10:40 PM 4,099
11 ANDERSON COOPER 360 CNN Mon. 8:00 PM 3,788
12 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD AMC Sun. 9:00 PM 3,671
13 THE O’REILLY FACTOR FNC Weds. 8:00 PM 3,549
14 THE O’REILLY FACTOR FNC Tues. 8:00 PM 3,388
15 COLLEGE FOOTBALL – STANFORD/WASHINGTON ESPN Fri. 8:55 PM 3,333
16 THE O’REILLY FACTOR FNC Thurs. 8:00 PM 3,225
17 COLLEGE FOOTBALL – KENTUCKY/ALABAMA ESPN Sat. 7:05 PM 3,190
18 DEBATE NIGHT IN AMERICA CNN Mon. 12:00 AM 3,159
19 THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREGAME NFLN Thurs. 8:00 PM 3,107
20 AMERICAN HORROR STORY: ROANOKE FX Weds. 10:00 PM 3,079
21 THE KELLY FILE FNC Weds. 9:00 PM 3,062
22 FEAR THE WALKING DEAD – F AMC Sun. 9:59 PM 3,048
23 WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW USA Mon. 8:00 PM 2,852
24 THE KELLY FILE FNC Tues. 9:00 PM 2,795
25 THE KELLY FILE FNC Thurs. 9:00 PM 2,770

All ratings are live + same-day. Source: The Nielsen Company.

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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