More Americans watched President Bush's televised speech on the outbreak of war with Iraq than any other event since the 1963 funeral of President Kennedy, according to preliminary ratings.

More than three-quarters, or 78.8 percent, of the nation's 93.1 million TV households tuned in Wednesday for Bush's speech, according to overnight ratings in 25 cities surveyed by the A.C. Nielsen Co.About 80 percent of U.S. homes with television tuned in to the Kennedy funeral broadcasts.

ABC was the runaway ratings leader among the three networks that broadcast continuous war coverage, leading with a 19.5 average rating in prime-time Wednesday. NBC was second with 15.1 and CBS third with 11.3.