NEW YORK — Viewers in 35,387,800 homes saw Sunday night's 90-minute presidential debate on the three major networks and Cable News Network, according to A. C. Nielsen Co. estimates made available Wednesday.
The debate between Vice President George Bush and Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis was seen in about 2.6 million more homes than were recorded as tuned in for the first of two presidential debates in October, 1984, between President Reagan and Democrat former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Sunday's debate attracted an estimated 62.7% of the national television audience, ratings for the networks and CNN showed. It was also seen on some PBS stations and C-SPAN, but Nielsen said it did not have national ratings for those services.
NBC estimated that 66 million people viewed the verbal joust. NBC, with a large audience lead-in from its Olympics telecast, had the highest ratings for the debate, averaging 16.1.