Ratings: NBC Wins Presidential Debate Coverage – and the Night

Most networks post big losses versus 2008 with presidential debate coverage

NBC was the only network to post gains over 2008 with its coverage of the presidential debate Tuesday night, taking an overall win for the evening thanks to the debate and "The Voice," according to preliminary numbers.

Getty ImagesThough all of the networks' numbers are subject to revision due to the live debate coverage, NBC currently holds first place in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic with a 4.7/12 rating and total viewers with 12.1 million. "The Voice" at 8 p.m. posted a slight increase over last week for a 4.6/13 and drew 12 million total viewers. The network's coverage of President Obama and Mitt Romney's second showdown the following hour surged 39 percent from the equivalent debate in 2008, jumping to a 5.0/12 — making it the night's highest-rated program — and just barely grabbed the night's most-watched status from "Dancing with the Stars" with 12.7 million total viewers. NBC's post-debate analysis at 10:30 drew a 4.0/10 and 10.6 million total viewers.

Also read: Debate Review: Obama Waxes Presidential While Waxy Romney Melts

ABC drew second place in the demo and total viewers with a 2.5/6 and 11.5 million. The "Dancing With the Stars" results show at 8 took a modest hit compared to last week for a 2.1/6 and virtually tied NBC's presidential coverage with nearly 12.7 million total viewers, while the network's debate coverage dropped 28 percent from the second presidential debate in 2008, posting a 2.9/7 and grabbing 11.5 million total viewers. ABC's debate analysis grabbed a 2.4/6 and 9 million total viewers.

CBS took third place in ratings and total viewers with a 1.9/5 and 8.2 million total viewers. Following an "NCIS: LA" repeat at 8, the presidential debate drew a 2.3/5 — down 15 percent from 2008 — and grabbed 8.7 million total viewers. The network's debate analysis had a 1.9/5 and 7 million total viewers.

Fox came in fourth in ratings and total viewers with a 1.6/4 and 4 million. "Raising Hope" at 8 had a slight decline from last week for a 1.7/5 and drew 4.3 million total viewers, while the network's new comedy "Ben and Kate" at 8:30 dropped 20 percent to a 1.2/3 and had 2.9 million total viewers, The Fox news-produced coverage of the presidential debate slipped 19 percent from the 2008 equivalent, receiving a 1.7/4 and taking 4.3 million total viewers, while post-debate analysis drew a 1.5/4 and 3.8 million total viewers.