Denver debate draws 67.2 million viewers

Fox News leads cable competition with 10.4 mil viewers

Interest in the presidential election is high this fall, as an estimated 67.2 million Americans watched the first of the three debates between President Obama and his GOP challenger Mitt Romney.

The figure came in well above the 52.4 million who watched the first such debate of the 2008 election season.

Wednesday’s roughly 90-minute debate from the U. of Denver in Colorado was carried across 11 networks and was moderated by Jim Lehrer of PBS.

Nielsen didn’t release official numbers for the broadcast networks, as the debate will be sustained and not included in nightly averages. But estimates had ABC on top for the 9-10:30 p.m. ET window with 11.3 million, followed by NBC (11.1 million) and CBS (10.6 million).

According to Nielsen, Fox News Channel drew an average audience of 10.42 million for its commercial-free telecast, which marked the highest aud for a presidential debate in the cabler’s 16-year history.

CNN (6 million) easily topped MSNBC (4.7 million), and CNN won the youth vote over its cable rivals, drawing 1.46 million viewers in the adults 18-34 demo.

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