More than 1.75 million households in the Los Angeles area--or about 7 out of every 10 watching television--tuned in Sunday evening to watch the presidential debate between Republican George Bush and Democrat Michael Dukakis, according to ratings released Monday by the A. C. Nielsen Co.
Although national figures will not be available until today, overnight ratings from 16 major cities across the United States showed that 59% of those watching television during the 90-minute war of words were tuned to the event on ABC, CBS or NBC.
An additional 3% of the viewers in Los Angeles and New York watched the debate on PBS. It was also carried live by Cable News Network and C-SPAN, but overnight ratings for those cable networks were not available Monday.
Besides those who watched the live broadcast, an additional 170,000 Los Angeles households watched a repeat of the debate on KCOP-TV Channel 13 at 8 p.m., and nearly 100,000 more tuned in at 11 p.m. for a replay on KTTV-TV Channel 11.
Local viewers also seemed keenly interested in the network analysis of the debate that immediately followed the formal proceedings. More than 40% of all local households watching television at the time tuned in to find out what the experts had to say on CBS, ABC or PBS. An additional 32% left the debate behind and turned to NBC, which resumed its coverage of the Olympics immediately after Dukakis and Bush shook hands and walked off the podium.