The overall rating on four broadcast networks grabbed a Nielsen Media Research 45.0 household rating, well above the 31.6 household rating earned by the Obama/McCain debate on September 26.
Looking at 11 networks--ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC--the VP two-hour debate, which included the debate and 30 minutes of post-debateanalysis, totaled 69.9 million viewers. The Obama/McCain presidential debate on September 26 drew 28.6 million viewers.
Back in 2004, six networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC-- totaled 43.6 million viewers for the vice-presidential debate. In 1984, the Geraldine Ferraro-George Bush debate (Ferraro, the first female nominated for VP) had 56.7 million viewers.
ABC grabbed the biggest audience for Thursday's Biden/Palin debate with 11.08 million total viewers. NBC was next at 10.68 million, followed by CBS at 10.3 million and Fox with 4.46 million. Looking at ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC--11 networks--the total viewership was 69.9 million. (As a comparison, the 2004 veep debate drew 43.6 million from six networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC. The Ferraro/Bush Sr. debate in 1984 was seen by 56.7 million.)
It was NBC that won among 18-49 viewers for the debate programming, a 4.6/10 during the 9 p.m. and a 3.8/9 in the 10 p.m. time period. NBC also won among 18-34 viewers. ABC was right behind NBC, at second place in both categories.
For the only hour that networks were able to program--8 p.m. to 9 p.m.--CBS came out on top with a 4.4/12 for "Survivor" among 18-49 viewers. NBC was second with 2.9/8 for "My Name is Earl." ABC's "Ugly Betty" had a 2.6/7. CW, with "Smallville," earned a 1.6/4, and Univision's "Cuidado con el Angel" tied with Fox's "Hole in the Wall" with a 1.5/4.
For the night overall, NBC had a 3.8 rating/9 share among 18-49 viewers. CBS had a 3.6/9, followed by ABC at 3.3/8; Univision earned a 1.7/4, Fox had a 1.6/4, and CW finished at 1.5/4.
Analysts were anticipating big viewership numbers ever since Palin's surprise nomination was announced right before the Republican Convention in August. Palin's acceptance speech during the convention earned record audiences across many TV news networks.