ABC was the most-watched broadcast network last night for the third and final 2016 presidential debate, which currently appears up from the second bout, but down from Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s record-setting initial meeting. Last night, the Disney-owned channel tied with NBC atop the key 18-49 demographic over those 90 minutes of primetime, however. ABC kicked the evening off with a traditional airing of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”
Including the entirety of Wednesday’s primetime, ABC stood alone as first in the main demo, though CBS actual took the overall-eyeball competition. Read about the debate’s earlier overnight Nielsen numbers here. Final TV ratings for the simulcast will come out this afternoon.
ABC was first in ratings with a 2.5 rating/8 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and second in total viewers with an average of 8.6 million, according to preliminary numbers. At 8 p.m., the Peanuts cartoon landed a 2.1/7 and 7.2 million viewers. The “Toy Story of Terror” special at 8:30 posted a 2.0/7 and 6.7 million viewers. The debate followed at 9, averaging a 2.8/8 and 9.8 million viewers over the 90 minutes it was scheduled for. The overrun and continuing coverage at 10:30 received a 2.2/7 and 7.7 million viewers.
NBC was second in ratings with a 2.2/7 and third in viewers with 7.7 million. “Blindspot” at 8 had a 1.3/4 and 5.6 million viewers. The 90-minute debate window averaged a 2.8/8 and 9.2 million viewers. The last 30 minutes of coverage at 10:30 got a 2.2/7 and 7.4 million viewers.
CBS was third in ratings with a 2.0/6, but first in viewers with 8.7 million. Before the debate, “Survivor” at 8 put up a 1.9/7 and 8.6 million viewers, helping the broadcaster pull away from the pack in that second stat. From 9-10:30, the network averaged a 2.2/6 and 9.3 million viewers. At 10:30, it received a 1.7/5 and 7.1 million viewers.
Fox was fourth in ratings with a 1.9/6 and in viewers with 6.4 million. “Lethal Weapon” at 8 got a 1.7/6 and 6.6 million viewers, leading in to the debate. The debate at 9 averaged a 2.0/6 and 6.3 million viewers over the 90 minutes Fox stuck with it nationally.
Univision was fifth in ratings with a 0.8/2 and in viewers with 2.2 million.
Telemundo was sixth in ratings with a 0.6/2 and in viewers with 1.6 million.