The final presidential debate Monday drew a TV audience of 59.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media.
That's down from the 67.2 million and 65.6 million for the first and second debates, respectively. But it still shows huge interest -- particularly when you consider that the debate was up against a game seven in the National League Championship series and "Monday Night Football," which together drew more than 18 million viewers.
Mentions in social media were down as well -- to about 8 million, according to Bluefin Labs. In the second debate, the number was 12.24 million for mentions in social media. A drop of one-third is big.
Here's the TV release from Nielsen:
An estimated 59.2 million people tuned in to watch the third and final debate between President Barack Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Monday, Oct. 22.
The foreign policy-focused debate, hosted by Lynn University in Florida and moderated by CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, was carried across 11 networks.
While coverage varied by network, 10 networks aired live coverage from approximately 9:00PM to 10:30PM while Telemundo aired coverage on tape delay.
The debate was up against two sporting events—Monday Night Football on ESPN, which had 10.7 million people (P2+) tuning in and Game 7 of the MLB NLCS on FOX, which had 8.1 million people watching.
Here's the social-media analysis from Bluefin Labs in Boston. Note the final item about Romney getting more comments than Obama. What's not explained is that the majority of Romney comments in social media are negative. To me, that is worth further exploration.
Debate #3 did not reach social levels of Debates #1 and #2
* Presidential Debate #3 generated 8.0M social media comments across Twitter and Facebook profiles that are marked as public. Twitter accounted for 7.8M of the total and public Facebook accounted for 152K.
But still a major event in social TV
* At 8.0M social media comments, Presidential Debate #3 still breaks into the Top 10 Social TV Events of All Time, across all programming genres.
* Specifically, it ranks #7 all time. It's ahead of the 2012 NBA Finals Game 5, the clinching game when LeBron James won his first NBA title (6.3M comments) and just behind The BET Awards 2012 (8.1M comments).
Debate #3 faced stiffer competition in social TV on its night of airing
* All three presidential debates commanded a dominating "share of commentary" during their respective nights of airing, but debate #3 faced the stiffest competition: it aired on the same night as Game 7 of the MLB NLCS as well as NFL Monday Night Football. Nevertheless, debate #3 accounted for 79% of all social TV commentary in prime time for Oct 22.
* The first two debates were even more dominating: Debate #1 accounted for 93% of all social TV commentary on its night of airing (Oct 3). Debate #2 accounted for 93% of all social TV commentary on its night of airing as well (Oct 16).
More social commentary about Mitt Romney in all three debates
* In all three debates, social media comments mentioning Mitt Romney outpaced comments mentioning Barack Obama by significant margins. In debate #1, there was a 12-point gap (54% Romney, 42% Obama). In debate #2, there was an 11-point gap (51% Romney, 40% Obama). And in this final debate #3, there was a 10-point gap (48% Romney, 38% Obama).
The moderator receded into the background in this debate
* The moderator in this debate, Bob Schieffer, generated less social commentary than Jim Lehrer and Candy Crowley, the moderators of debates #1 and #2, respectively. In this debate, 2.8% of social commentary mentioned the moderator. In debate #1, 5.5% of social commentary mentioned the moderator Jim Lehrer. In debate #2, 4.8% of social commentary mentioned the moderator Candy Crowley.