Third Presidential Debate Watched By 56.5 Million

The third and final presidential debate drew nearly as many viewers as the second, even with major league baseball as its TV competition.

A total of 56.5 million viewers watched Wednesday's debate in Hempsted, N.Y., between Democratic Sen. Barack Obama and Republican Sen. John McCain, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.

That figure represents the collective audience for 11 networks. But Fox wasn't one of those networks, skipping debate coverage to air what turned out to be the final game of the National League Championship Series as the Philadelphia Phillies moved on to the World Series.

Nielsen tallied viewership for Wednesday's debate on ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BBC-America, CNBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC and MUN2.

On Oct. 7, a total of 63.2 million viewers watched the second debate, while the candidates' first faceoff on Sept. 26 was seen by 52.4 million viewers. More than 70 million saw Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin's sole meeting on Oct. 2. Fox was among the networks airing those debates.

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