Nielsen: U.S. vice presidential debate watched by 51.4 million viewers at home
Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan drew 51.4 million home viewers on Thursday and beat the number of people that watched the George H.W. Bush and Geraldine Ferarro debate in 1984, according to television ratings company Nielsen.
Thursday’s debate become the second-most watched U.S. vice presidential debate ever at home. Nielsen’s figures came from a dozen networks that televised the debate but it did not include viewers that watched online nor from their offices or other public places like bars and restaurants.
Nielsen said that the 2008 debate between Biden and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin remained the most-watch VP debate on television. In that first and only debate, around 70 million people tuned in to watch the two vice presidential candidates.
The first presidential debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Roney on Oct. 3 attracted around 67.2 million home TV viewers and unknown number of people that watched on the internet.
People ages 55 and above dominated the viewership for Thursday’s debate at Centre College in Danville, Ky. that was moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Incidentally, this group of audience has the highest voting rate during elections.
The Obama-Romney debate, however, did not have stiff competition from major sporting programs. The Biden-Ryan face-off aired during the postseason baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles and the NFL match between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans. Both games may have reduced the audience of the debate as they were watched by 5 and 6 million viewers.