(Reuters) - The second debate between White House contenders Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton drew a television audience of about 59 million Americans on Sunday, well below their first, record-breaking encounter, early ratings data showed.
Figures from the ABC, CBS, and FOX networks, and cable channels MSNBC, Fox News, CNN and Univision on Monday showed that the TV audience was down about 20 percent from the Sept. 26 debate, which attracted a record 84 million viewers.
Final figures, including those for a handful of smaller networks, will be released by Nielsen later on Monday.
Second presidential debates tend to attract smaller TV audiences but attention was high going into Sunday's face-off after the emergence of a 2005 video of Trump making vulgar remarks about women prompted several Republican politicians to abandon him.
The second debate took place in the same time slot as NBC's popular "Sunday Night Football," which was watched by about 15 million Americans, Nielsen data showed. NBC did not carry the debate.
Sunday's debate, the second of three before the Nov. 8 election, was remarkable for the brutal nature of the exchanges between Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, and Clinton, his Democratic rival.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by W Simon and Bill Trott)