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Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg's first debate appearance drove ratings to a record-high Wednesday night, according to Nielsen ratings provided by NBC News. The debate averaged nearly 20 million live TV viewers across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, according to preliminary numbers.

Why it matters: Bloomberg's highly anticipated debate debut drew contentious zingers from opponents who were eager to spar with him on stage for the first time.

The big picture: The previous record-holder was also the NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo trio, for the first debate the sister networks hosted of the 2020 Democratic primary. That debate broke previous records set last June with 18.1 million viewers the second night, and 15.3 million viewers the first.

Expand chart
Data: Nielsen; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

By the numbers: NBC News says that roughly 13.5 million people tuned into at least part of its live stream of Wednesday's debate, which also set records.

  • Previously, the most live-streamed debate was the first of this cycle, hosted by NBC News, MSNBC and Telemundo, both nights of which drew 9 million live stream viewers.
  • The debate also saw record viewership of more than 5.3 million in the lucrative 25-54-year-old demographic.

What's next: These are just preliminary figures. The final number will likely be a little bit higher.

Go deeper: 4 takeaways from the Nevada Democratic debate

Go deeper

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Former President Donald Trump and former First Lady Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged that Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

1 hour ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.

Biden signs order overturning Trump's transgender military ban

Photo: Tom Brenner/Getty Images

President Biden signed an executive order on Monday overturning the Trump administration's ban on transgender Americans serving in the military.

Why it matters: The ban, which allowed the military to bar openly transgender recruits and discharge people for not living as their sex assigned at birth, affected up to 15,000 service members, according to tallies from the National Center for Transgender Equality and Transgender American Veterans Association.