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66.5 Million Viewers Tune in for the Second Presidential Debate

Results 20 Percent Below First Debate in Total Viewers

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The second Presidential Debate on Sunday, moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper and ABC’s Martha Raddatz, and featuring Donald Trump apologizing for his comments to Billy Bush in that now infamous video in 2005, reached an estimated 66.5 million viewers, according to the Live Plus Same Day data from Nielsen. Comparably, Nielsen is reporting a 20 percent decline from the record 84-million viewers who tuned in to see the first face-off between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Sept. 26. And it was four percent shy of the most-watched second Presidential debate, which was 69-million viewers on Oct. 15, 1992 for George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

These results include viewing on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, PBS and the Spanish language networks, and they do not include C-Span or the audience who streamed the debate on their computers or mobile devices.

CBS, which was boosted by NFL coverage bleeding into the 7 p.m. half-hour into veteran “60 Minutes,” was the top-rated broadcast network with over 16-million viewers, followed by 11.51 million for ABC and 11.29 million for CNN. Comparably, this was a record high for CNN, which bested Fox News (9.89 million) and MSNBC (5.54 million) by 14% and 104%, respectively.

Competing head-to-head with the debate, the Giants-Packers match-up on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” was on the map with 16.6 million viewers.

Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman

Marc Berman has been writing professionally since 1999 and is the author of the “Mr. Television” for Campaign US ( Most recently, Berman was the creator and Editor-in-Chief of website and newsletter TV Media Insights for Cross MediaWorks. From 1999-2011, he was the Senior Editor for Mediaweek and has also written for The New York Daily News, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Emmy Magazine, among others. Berman has also appeared on “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra,” “Access Hollywood,” “Inside Edition,” “The CBS Evening News,” E!, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and MSNBC.

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