VP debate draws nearly 70 million viewers

The numbers for the Vice Presidential debate are in and they’ve blown the first Obama/McCain debate out of the water. The VP debate drew nearly 70 million viewers putting on par as the most watched debate since 1992.

Report from THR.com:

UPDATED: Thursday’s highly anticipated face-off between Alaska governor Sarah Palin and Delaware senator Joe Biden was the most-watched vp debate of all time.

Last night’s event was seen by nearly 70 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

That’s the most-viewed debate — presidential or vp — since at least the second round between Bill Clinton, Ross Perot and George Bush in 1992.

Thursday’s debate was…

— 33% higher than Friday’s top-of-the-ticket debate between John McCain and Barack Obama (52.4 million).

— 61% higher than the 2004 vp debate between Dick Cheney and John Edwards (43.6 million).

— 23% higher than the 1984 match up between George Bush and Geraldine Ferrarro (56.7 million), the former title-holder for the most-watched vp debate.

The Biden-Palin summit was expected to overthrow Friday’s presidential debate in viewers due to questions about Palin’s readiness and because the vp match was held on a Thursday — television’s most-watched night of the week. But this ratings blowout exceeds industry expectations. The audience response puts the election back onto the historic and record-breaking ratings territory that characterized the convention coverage.

The Nielsen measurement includes viewers watching the debate live on 11 networks — NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS, CNN, Fox News, CSPAN, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and Telefutura.

ABC drew the largest debate audience with 13.1 million viewers. Among broadcast networks, ABC was followed by NBC (12.8 million), CBS (11.1 million) and Fox (4.5 million).

On cable, Fox News led with 11.1 million — the most-watched telecast in the network’s 12-year history. CNN drew 10.7 million, the channel’s third most-watched telecast ever. MSNBC had 4.4 million. In addition, PBS projects 3.5 million viewers watched its coverage.

Clearly many viewers were tuning in to see Palin either fall flat or pass the test after the media built it up for a week.