The first presidential primary debate of the 2020 campaign drew a big audience — but not 2016 big.
The debate featuring the first 10 Democratic hopefuls on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo averaged a combined 15.26 million viewers, a strong showing but not quite up to the historically huge levels of the first debates of the 2016 cycle.
More than half the total TV audience (8.67 million) watched on NBC. MSNBC averaged 5.87 million for the two-hour broadcast, and Telemundo drew 719,000 for its Spanish-language telecast. The debate drew a combined 4.3 million viewers in the key news demographic of adults 25-54.
Wednesday’s telecast ends up a good bit behind the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle, which drew a massive 24 million viewers on Fox News, the channel’s biggest audience ever. That debate was then-candidate Donald Trump’s first time facing other candidates.
It nearly, but didn’t quite, reach the level the first Democratic primary debate in October 2015, which averaged 15.46 million viewers for CNN. No other primary debate or candidate forum for either party in the 2016 cycle equaled the first ones.