An estimated 67.2 million people watched the first debate Wednesday night between President Obama and Mitt Romney, exceeding the TV viewing audience for each of the three 2008 presidential debates.
Nielsen, the TV ratings company, said viewership for the first Obama vs. Romney battle was up 28% from the first debate four years ago between Obama and John McCain.
The largest audience for the 2008 candidates came in their second meeting, which attracted an estimated 63.2 million viewers.
Romney was aggressive and focused on Wednesday night, while Obama at times appeared listless as they sparred over the economy, jobs, health care and the role of government at the University of Denver.
Nielsen says an estimated 30.8 million TV viewers over 55 watched the debate, in which Obama and Romney also jousted over proposals for Medicare.
Eleven broadcast and cable networks aired the 90-minute presidential debate, while Telemundo provided coverage on tape delay. Obama and Romney will debate in a town-hall-style format on Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y.