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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

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
8 mins ago - Health

Overturning Roe could strain abortion access even in blue states

The Supreme Court is reflected in a woman's sunglasses during a march Oct. 2. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortions could be harder to access even in states where they remain legal, because those clinics could be flooded with patients from states that have cracked down.

The big picture: This has happened before, and clinics fear the crush of demand would be a major problem in the immediate wake of a decision that would allow states to ban abortion.

A critical race theory founder says he's being inundated with threats

Richard Delgado. Photo: Courtesy of Richard Delgado

Richard Delgado, one of the founders of the critical race theory movement, tells Axios he and his wife have been receiving a steady stream of threatening messages since the coordinated, conservative campaign against critical race theory began.

Why it matters: Educators across the country — even some elementary school teachers — have faced harassment and threats over the past year over lesson plans that teach about system racism in the U.S.

Burnout, money, concern drive Harris turnover

Vice President Kamala Harris and another potential 2024 presidential candidate, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, appeared together Thursday in Charlotte, N.C. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Burnout, better opportunities and concern about being permanently branded a "Harris person" is driving some of the turnover in Vice President Kamala Harris's office, people familiar with the situation tell Axios.

Why it matters: Harris is not only a heartbeat from the presidency but, by virtue of her office, the presumed 2024 frontrunner if President Biden doesn't seek re-election. There's been an inordinate amount of disarray — and, now, turnover — throughout her tenure.