Ratings: VP Debate Way Down in Early Numbers

"Beauty and the Beast" off to a strong start;  "The Big Bang Theory" posts the night's best numbers

Last Updated: October 12, 2012 @ 10:45 AM

Do viewers seem less interested in Joe Biden's debate with Paul Ryan than his faceoff with Sarah Palin? You betcha.

Getty ImagesEarly ratings for Thursday night's vice presidential debate between Ryan and sitting vice president Joe Biden are subject to substantial revision due to time-zone adjustments. But preliminary numbers show a drastic dropoff for most of the networks from the 2008 debate


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The exception? Fox had a slight increase over the 2008 debate.

Meanwhile, the series premiere of CW's "Beauty and the Beast" re-imagining got off to a strong start.

Dropoffs aside, CBS took the night, thanks largely to the top-rated "Big Bang Theory." The network came in first in the advertiser-friendly 18-49 demographic with a 2.7 rating/7 share and in total viewers with 9.4 million. "The Big Bang Theory" at 8 p.m. grabbed the night's best numbers in the demo with a 4.2/13 and had the night's highest total viewership with 13.8 million.

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"Two and a Half Men" at 8:30 posted a 3.4/9, slipping slightly from last week to a series low, and drew 11.2 million total viewers. The network's coverage of the debate at 9 dropped 35 percent from 2008's vice presidential debate for a 2.2/5 and drew 8.4 million total viewers. CBS's post-debate analysis posted a 1.6/4 and 6 million total viewers.

Fox landed in second place in ratings and total viewers with a 2.2/6 and third in total viewers with 6.2 million. "The X Factor" at 8 dropped slightly from last week to a 2.9/8 and 8.3 million, while Fox's debate coverage — produced by Fox News — inched up 6 percent from 2008 to a 2.0/5, and attracted 5.5 million total viewers. Fox's post-debate analysis drew a 1.4/4 and 3.9 million total viewers.

NBC came in third in ratings and fourth in total viewers with a 1.9/5 and 5.7 million. "30 Rock" at 8 drew even with last week's season premiere for a 1.4/4 and had 3.8 million total viewers, while "Up All Night" at 8:30 dropped 14 percent to a 1.2/3 and drew 3.5 million total viewers. The network had the best ratings performance among the networks with its debate coverage, posting a 2.3/6 — which was still down 48 percent from 2008 — and grabbed 7 million total viewers. NBC's debate analysis had a 1.8/5 and 5.8 million total viewers.

ABC came in fourth in ratings and second in total viewers with a 1.7/4 and 6.9 million total viewers. The network's new submarine drama "The Last Resort" dropped 16 percent from last week for a 1.6/4 and drew 6.9 million total viewers, while the network took the biggest hit among the networks with its debate coverage. It plunged 51 percent to a 1.9/5 and drew 7.4 million total viewers. ABC's debate analysis posted a 1.4/4 and grabbed 5.4 million total viewers.

Following the season premiere of "The Vampire Diaries" on the CW at 8 (which sucked up a 1.6/5 and 3.5 million total viewers), the series premiere of "Beauty and the Beast" the following hour posted a 1.3/3 — even with last year's premiere of "The Secret Circle" and grew slightly in total viewers from the "Secret Circle" premiere with 3.2 million. The CW averaged a 1.4/4 and 3.3 million total viewers for the night.