The third debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney beat out Monday Night Football and the decisive National League pennant game in viewers, Nielsen reported Tuesday.
Round 3 of the Obama-Romney debates drew 59.2 million viewers. Though impressive, that figure is the smallest audience for the three presidential debates this year, down from 67.2 million for the first debate on Oct. 3 and 65.6 million for the second on Oct. 17, The New York Times reports. The vice presidential debate on Oct. 11 drew 51.4 million viewers.
By comparison, 10.7 million people tuned in to ESPN as the Chicago Bears defeated the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. Nielsen said 8.1 million people watched the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals to advance to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.
What’s more, the Nielsen numbers seriously understate the total audience for the debates because they do not count viewers outside their homes, nor those who watched on computers, tablets or cellphones. YouTube, for instance, said it served up millions of views of each debate, though it declined to say exactly how many.
In 2008, a mere 56.5 million tuned in to the final debate between Obama and John McCain.
According to a CBS News instant poll of uncommitted voters Monday night, Obama scored a clear victory.
Immediately after the debate wrapped, 53 percent of the more than 500 voters polled gave the foreign policy-themed debate to Obama; 23 percent said Romney won, and 24 percent called it a tie.
Both candidates enjoyed a bump on being trusted to handle international crises. Before the debate, 46 percent said they would trust Romney, and 58 percent said they would trust the president. Those numbers spiked to 49 percent and 71 percent, respectively.
Overwhelmingly, the same group of voters said Obama would do a better job than Romney on terrorism and national security, 64 percent to 36 percent. But they were evenly split, 50-50, on which candidate would better handle China.