Nielsen: 28.4 Million Debate Viewers on 4 Major Networks

Full data coming later today, but so far the tally is that the Biden-Ryan contest attracted an audience of 28.4 million viewers on the four major broadcast networks.

Bloomberg’s Andy Fixmer reports that CBS drew 8.37 million viewers, to lead broadcasters showing last night’s debate between U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his Republican opponent Paul Ryan, according to preliminary Nielsen data. Results for cable TV networks and adjustments for time-zone differences will be available later today.

Biden, 69, and Ryan, 42, faced off for 90 minutes at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, in a debate moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. While Biden often referred to Ryan as “my friend,” the debate was significantly more adversarial than last week’s face-off between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, which drew an audience of 67.2 million, including cable viewers.

The debate was held as polls showed a tightening race. Biden and Ryan sparred on abortion, the economy and foreign policy, while also offering personal insights about their shared Catholic faith.

ABC was second with 7.39 million viewers, NBC third at 7.09 million and Fox drew 5.52 million, the Nielsen data show.

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