Bush-Kerry debate scores high ratings. Almost 63 million people watched President Bush spar with Sen. John Kerry Thursday night

By Brian Hiatt
Updated October 04, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT

Either the presidential debate is extremely exciting this year, or the Oscars were really boring. Almost 63 million people watched Thursday night’s first debate between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, topping ratings for the Academy Awards, according to the New York Times. That figure made it the most-watched debate since 1992 — only about 46 million people watched the first debate between Bush and Al Gore in 2000.

Fox News and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart were both debate winners, according to Reuters. The Daily Show‘s post-debate coverage garnered the show its highest ratings ever, scoring 2.4 million viewers. And Fox News had an average of 9.6 million viewers during the debate, which came close to setting a network record, Reuters reported.

Also Thursday, CBS’ Survivor: Vanuatu showed strength, adding a million viewers from its previous week, and trouncing NBC’s Joey and Will & Grace. Nonetheless, NBC’s debate coverage was the most-watched of all the networks.