Fewer Viewers for Second Bush, Kerry Debate

The second Bush-Kerry presidential debate drew a smaller audience than the first but viewer interest remained high, according to ratings figures released Monday.

An estimated 46.7 million viewers watched last Friday's contest between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry (search), compared to the 62.5 million who viewed the Sept. 30 debate.

By comparison, the second debate in 2000 between Bush and former Vice President Al Gore drew 37.6 million viewers.

NBC, with 12.3 million viewers, was the most-watched network, followed by ABC with an audience of 10.3 million, CBS with 8.1 million and FOX with 3.8 million.

FOX News Channel led among cable channels with 7.1 million viewers, while CNN had 3.4 million and MSNBC had 1.7 million.

A third and final debate between Bush and Kerry, focusing on domestic issues, is scheduled Wednesday. CBS newsman Bob Schieffer will moderate.

The sole debate between Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and Sen. John Edwards (search) drew 43.6 million viewers.