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.

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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

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