NBC

First 2020 primary debate breaks viewership records

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The second night of the first Democratic primary debate of the 2020 cycle broke records with 18.1 million people tuning in on live television across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, according to a press release from NBC.

Why it matters: Executives were expecting modest viewership for the first Democratic primary debates of the 2020 cycle, largely due to the fact that a single candidate has not emerged as the standout media star. But debate viewership on the second night of the 2-day event broke records for the most-watched Democratic primary debate in history.

First Democratic debate draws over 15 million live viewers

Reporters eat popcorn while watching Democratic debate
A box of popcorn sits next to reporters as they watch Democratic presidential candidate. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

More than 15 million tuned in on live television to the first Democratic debate on Wednesday, according to NBC. Many more watched via streaming or followed along on social media. 

Why it matters: The debate had a strong performance compared to what network executives had predicted, but it still came shy of the viewership for both the Republican and Democratic opening primary debates in 2015.