Still, Monday’s crowd had nearly 3 million more viewers than watched the third presidential debate in 2008. All three debates scored significantly larger audiences than did the ones four years ago.
Monday’s debate was pitted against two big sporting events, though, and everyone got bloodied in the ratings.
“Monday Night Football” on ESPN attracted an average of 10.7 million people — the franchise’s second-smallest crowd this season. And on Fox, Game 7 of the Major League Baseball National League Championship Series clocked 8.1 million — also on the low side.
Fox News Channel, however, scored the biggest audience in its 16-year history — 11.5 million viewers — in covering Monday’s debate, as the Fox broadcast network bowed out to cover the baseball game.
The Fox broadcast network had carried the past two presidential debates and the veep debate, with Fox News Channel’s Shep Smith at the anchor desk.
NBC scored the largest audience: 12.4 million, followed by ABC’s 11.7 million. Although the debate, which focused on foreign policy, was moderated by CBS News’s Bob Schieffer, his network trailed with an audience of 8.4 million.
FNC’s previous best ratings performance was the 11.1 million it attracted for the 2008 vice presidential debate between then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and then-Sen. Joe Biden.
FNC might have gained some viewers Monday from MSNBC, which averaged 4.1 million debate watchers — down from the 4.9 million it drew for the second.
CNN was flat at 5.8 million viewers — meaning that FNC beat CNN and MSNBC combined.
Obama on MTV
With the clock ticking toward Election Day, Obama has agreed to sit for a live half-hour special on MTV on Friday — two days after he’s scheduled to be Jay Leno’s guest on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”
Sway Calloway will host “Ask Obama Live: An MTV Interview With the President” at 5 p.m. from the White House. MTV’s Andrew Jenks will be posted at a Washington college with students who have questions.
West Coast viewers will see a tape-delayed telecast of the special, which also will be run on MTV2, mtvU, MTV Hits and MTV Jams, and MTV’s network Web site and mobile platform.
Obama is also in talks, as is Romney, about being interviewed on the eve of Election Day, during halftime of “Monday Night Football.”
Four years ago, Obama and his then-GOP rival, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, sat for separate interviews that ran during “Monday Night Football” halftime.
This year, the candidates had hoped to be interviewed on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” which draws about twice as many viewers as does “MNF” on the cable network. But NBC ixnayed that, reports SportsBusiness Journal.