Last night’s third presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama drew in 29 million viewers across ABC, NBC, and CBS, according to last night’s preliminary ratings, 13 percent fewer than last Tuesday’s second debate but 12 percent more than the first debate on Sept. 26. ABC’s coverage reigned for last week’s debate No. 2 (likely thanks to its Dancing With the Stars lead-in), but this time, NBC grabbed the biggest share of the 9 p.m. debate viewership with a 10.3 million average, followed by ABC (9.7 million) and CBS (9 million). None of the three presidential showdowns came close to the Oct. 2 vice
presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, which nabbed
almost 70 million viewers to make it one of the most-watched debates in
In the very busy 8 p.m. hour, NBC’s Knight Rider and CBS’ Gary Unmarried and The New Adventures of Old Christine all averaged 7.7 million viewers — though Knight Rider saw a 17 percent viewership spike for its second half hour, which could explain why more people watched NBC’s debate coverage. But it was Fox, which ran postseason baseball all night, that just barely won the hour, though its rounded-off average viewership also came in at 7.7 million.
All of the 8 and 8:30 p.m. series gained viewers from last week, probably because baseball precluded Fox’s usual time slot winner, Bones. In particular, ABC’s Pushing Daisies averaged 6.3 million viewers (12 percent more than last week) and lost pracically none of its audience over the hour.
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