Debates follow usual 8 p.m. network fare in much of the country

Prior to President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney facing off on Long Island, NBC’s “The Voice” dominated the 8 o’clock timeslot Tuesday night.

The Peacock’s musical competition series scored a 4.6 rating/13 share in the 18-49 demo and 12 million viewers, according to early estimates from Nielsen. That’s just a notch above last week’s numbers.

In the night’s only series premiere, CW’s “Emily Owens, M.D.” got off to a rough start at 9 o’clock with 0.5/1, 1.6 million viewers. Doctor drama was up against the debates, however, in much of the country and built slightly in total viewers from its “Hart of Dixie” repeat lead-in. Between the two shows, it was the most-watched Tuesday for the CW in nearly a year.

Fox’s “Raising Hope” (1.7/5, 4.2m) and “Ben & Kate” (1.2/3, 2.9m) fell slightly from a week ago, and the slippage of total viewers could be a concern for “Kate,” although the show is a favorite of critics and Fox has already given it a full-series order. ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars: All Stars” (2.1/6, 12.6m) had a significant increase from the previous week’s special edition (1.3/4) and was the night’s most-watched program.

CBS offered a repeat of “NCIS: Los Angeles” (1.4/4, 8.1m) in the 8 o’clock timeslot.

And all 8 p.m. shows were up against the debate and post-debate analysis in the western part of the country, so numbers will naturally be lower than on a normal Tuesday night. Also, the third game of the American League Championship Series was aired on TBS, which likely drew millions of fans who preferred the baseball game to scripted or political fare.

In the 9-11 p.m. timeslots that offered coverage of the debate and post-debate analysis, NBC fared best with 4.7/11 and 12.1 million viewers. ABC was second (2.8/7, 10.9m), CBS third (2.2/5, 8.2m) and Fox, which would normally turn to local news at 10 p.m., used its cable brethren Fox News to air the full debate across much of the country (1.7/4, 4.2).

These numbers, however, will shift significantly once the actual national ratings with appropriate time-zone programming are known later today.

Preliminary 18-49 averages for the night (excluding debate coverage): NBC, 4.6/13; ABC, 2.1/6; Fox, 1.5/4; Univision, 1.5/4; CBS, 1.4/4; CW, 0.6/2.

In total viewers (excluding debate coverage): ABC, 12.6 million; NBC, 12 million; CBS, 8.1 million; Fox, 3.6 million; Univision, 3.2 million; CW, 1.5 million.

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