Update Compliments of Jake Tapper: Nielsen: An estimated 67.2 million people watched the debate.
People are tuning in and President Obama’s advantage in 2008 of people staying home seems less and less likely to occur:
More than 58 million people watched the first Presidential debate last night between President Obama and Mitt Romney, up substantially from the first debate in the 2008 election cycle, which had 52.4 million viewers. Fox News was the most-watched cable news network during the debate, and will likely be the most-watched network on TV, though final broadcast numbers will not be released until after 4 PM.
Fox News, MSNBC, NBC, Fox and CBS are all up from the same debate in 2008, while CNN and ABC are down. In the adults 25-54 demo, FNC and MSNBC are up compared to 2008, while CNN is down. The 58 million figure (and the 52.4 million figure) does not include coverage on PBS, Univision, C-SPAN, the cable business networks or online.
From 9-10:30 PM
FNC: 10,421,380 total viewers, 2,932,907 adults 25-54
CNN: 6,045,109 total viewers, 2,368,589 adults 25-54
MSNBC: 4,710,511 total viewers, 1,852,629 adults 25-54
Broadcast (based on Nielsen Fast Nationals, which could change in finals):
CBS 10,176,000 total viewers
ABC 10,117,000 total viewers
NBC 9,914,000 total viewers
FOX 6,977,000 total viewers