TV Debates That Sell More Than Just Drama

… 67.2 million viewers tuned into the first debate, according to Nielsen, making it second only to the Super Bowl so far this year. … Ratings sometimes go up in the second and third rounds of the debate cycle, and given the kind of Frazier-Ali hype surrounding this matchup, there is no telling how many people will watch Round 2 at Hofstra University on Tuesday night. …

“Televised debates still provide something no other medium can, which is a head-to-head comparison that allows for back-and-forth,” said Matthew J. Dickinson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College who has a blog on elections called Presidential Power.

Mr. Dickinson said that analysis after the Obama-Romney debate indicated that the audience was equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, which suggests the debate was a rare instance in which the body politic was all looking at the same thing. [cont.]

David Carr, New York Times