Final Trump-Clinton face-off draws 71.6 million viewers, third-most-watched presidential debate in history

The third and final presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had an average audience of about 71.6 million viewers on Wednesday, making it the third-most-watched candidate showdown in history.

The TV audience for the event, held at the Thomas & Mack Center at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, ranks behind the record-setting 84.4 million viewers who watched the first meeting between the candidates on Sept. 26 and the debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan on Oct. 28, 1980, which was watched by 80.6 million viewers.

Wednesday’s debate topped the 66.5 million viewers who tuned in for the Oct. 9 debate between Trump, the Republican nominee, and his Democratic opponent, Clinton, which competed against an NFL “Sunday Night Football” contest on NBC.

The audience for Wednesday’s face-off was moderated by “Fox News Sunday” co-anchor Chris Wallace. His network, Fox News Channel, had the largest debate audience on cable or broadcast, with 11.3 million viewers.

ABC ranked second with 11 million viewers, followed by NBC (10.4 million), CBS (10.1 million), CNN (8.7 million), the Fox Broadcasting (6.6 million), MSNBC (5.5 million), PBS (2.6 million), Univision (2.4 million), Telemundo (1.5 million), Fox Business Network (714,000) and CNBC (559,000), according to Nielsen.

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stephen.battaglio@latimes.com

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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UPDATES:

2:25 p.m.: This article was updated with viewership numbers from Nielsen.

This article was originally published at 12:45 p.m.

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