Early ratings for cable network coverage of Tuesday's presidential debate have numbers surging ahead of the first showdown between President Obama and Mitt Romney earlier this month -- and Fox News Channel is reaping the biggest benefits.
Nielsen figures have FNC's telecast of the town hall debate matching its highest ratings ever (Sarah Palin and Joe Biden's 2008 vice presidential debate) with 11.1 million viewers. On par with that record, FNC also scored a demo win with 3.46 million adults 25-54. Though its returns are shy of broadcast competition in NBC and ABC, it also topped CBS.
CNN and MSNBC once again switched ranking for the debate. After CNN took the first debate in both viewers and the demo, and MSNBC reclaimed its runner-up status with last week's veep showdown, CNN was once again in second place with 5.77 million viewers and 2.58 million in the demo. MSNBC had 4.88 million total viewers and 1.9 million in adults 25-54.