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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vice-Presidential Debate Draws More Than 50 Million Viewers


Thursday's televised debate between Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Representative Paul D. Ryan attracted well over 50 million people - a significant chunk of the public, but a smaller total than the debate between the presidential candidates last week.

Nielsen, a television ratings company, estimated Friday that 51.4 million viewers watched at home on one of the 12 rated networks that showed the debate. Nielsen's total did not include television viewers in offices, restaurants, bars, or other areas, nor did it include any Web viewers.

The Oct. 3 debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney garnered about 67.2 million viewers at home, according to Nielsen, and untold millions more via the W eb.

Unlike Mr. Obama and Mr. Romney, Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan had stiff competition from two big sporting events: a baseball playoff game between the Yankees and the Orioles and an NFL match-up between the Steelers and the Titans. Both games were watched by between 5 and 6 million viewers, potentially deflating the vice presidential debate audience.

Back in 2008, Mr. Biden and the Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin attracted 69.9 million TV viewers at home - a record for any debate of vice presidential running mates.

Nielsen said in a news release Friday: “The 2008 Biden-Palin debate notwithstanding, last night's political tête-à-tête had the highest V.P. debate viewership since the George H.W. Bush-Geraldine Ferarro debate in 1984. That debate nabbed 56.7 million viewers.”

The favored network for the debate on Thursday night was the Fox News Channel. It drew slightly more than 10 million viewers between 9 and 10:30 p.m., almost two million more than the next-highest-rated network, CBS. Among the cable news channels, MSNBC, with 4.4 million viewers, slightly outrated CNN.

TiVo, which makes digital video recorders, said that the most-rewound segment of the debate among its users was Mr. Biden and Mr. Ryan's 9:28 p.m. exchange about Mr. Romney's comment about the “47 percent.”