WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Early projections are in for television ratings for the final presidential debate and Nielsen estimates 68.76 million people tuned in to one of 11 stations the group monitors.
The figure is a slight increase from ratings for the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but down significantly from the record-breaking television audience of 84 million people for the first debate.
Wednesday's debate benefited from a lack of competition in the form of a national NFL game being aired. Both of the first two debates were scheduled opposite prime time NFL football on a Monday and Sunday night, respectively. There are no NFL games on Wednesday, though the debate did have competition in the form of a Major League Baseball playoff game with teams from two major media markets, the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.
In the ratings wars, Fox News carried the day, with 11.3 million viewers, the highest of any single network. Fox was aided by the fact that its anchor, Chris Wallace, was the moderator. Viewers tend to migrate to the moderator's home network.
ABC drew the largest audience of the broadcast networks, drawing in 11 million viewers. NBC had 10.4 million and CBS had 10.1 million.
CNN had 8.7 million viewers and MSNBC had 5.5 million.
The Nielsen numbers do not include those who watched on PBS or C-SPAN. The numbers also do not reflect the growing audience streaming the debate online. Numerous websites carried the feed, as did social media giants Facebook and Twitter.