NBC took the biggest numbers for the first presidential debate, but CBS and Fox tied for first place overall Wednesday, according to preliminary numbers.
NBC's debate coverage tied Fox's "The X Factor" for the night's top ratings spot. ABC's new "The Neighbors" was down significantly in its timeslot debut after premiering last week with a huge lead-in from "Modern Family."
CBS had a 2.8 rating/7 share and took first in total viewers outright with 9.7 million. "Survivor: Philippines" at 8 dipped slightly from last week for a 2.9/9 and drew 10.5 million total viewers, making it the night's most-watched show.
The network's debate coverage the following hour drew a 3.0/7 and received 10.1 million total viewers, while its debate analysis at 10:30 was down 13 percent from its analysis of the first debate in 2008, posting a 2.0/5 and pulling in 7 million total viewers.
Fox, which took fourth place in total viewers with 7.4 million, ran "The X Factor" at 8, which inched up from last week for a 3.4/10 and took 9.3 million total viewers. Its debate coverage the following hour drew a 2.8/7 and posted 7 million total viewers, while its debate analysis was up 20 percent from the 2008 counterpart with a 1.8/5, nabbing 4.9 million total viewers.
NBC took a narrow third place in the demo with a 2.7/7, coming in third in total viewers with 8 million. The new comedy "Animal Practice" at 8 p.m. showed a slight improvement over last week's time-period premiere, drawing a 1.5/5 and received 5.2 million total viewers, while "Guys With Kids" climbed 13 percent to a 1.8/5 and drew 5.5 million total viewers.
NBC's debate coverage at 9 received a 3.4/8, tying "X Factor" for the first-place slot, grabbing 9.9 million total viewers Its debate analysis posted a 2.5/7 — down 14 percent from the analysis from the first 2008 debate — and took 7.6 million total viewers.
ABC took third place in ratings and second in total viewers with a 2.6/7 and 8.8 million. "The Middle" at 8 dropped 24 percent from last week's season premiere to a 2.2/7 and drew 7.9 million total viewers.
New comedy "The Neighbors" at 8:30 was down 38 percent from its series debut last week — when it ran in a different timeslot and had the benefit of a "Modern Family" lead-in — posting a 2.0/6 and receiving 6.6 million total viewers. ABC's presidential debate coverage at 9 received a 3.0/7 and drew 11.3 million total viewers — the largest audience for the debate among the networks — while its debate analysis ranked a 2.2/6 and drew 8.9 million total viewers.