Sunday night’s Democratic presidential debate was live-streamed on YouTube, but only a small fraction of the U.S. population actually tuned in.
The debate in South Carolina was a joint production of NBC News and YouTube. Though NBC News overnight ratings have not yet come in, the YouTube viewership numbers—available on the bottom of the screen during the broadcast—were paltry.
When the debate started at 9 PM Eastern Time, less than 300,000 people were tuned in.
By 10:20 PM, there were 349,015 people watching.
Immediately after the debate ended at 11 PM and the post-game analysis started, only 214,713 people were still tuned in.
YouTube promoted the live stream on its homepage throughout the broadcast and made it a “Featured LiveStream.”
By comparison, YouTube’s live stream in June of the Electronic Entertainment Expo notched eight million views in just twelve hours on the site.
YouTube Channel creator Connor Franta asked the candidates a question during the debate about how they plan to “engage” millennials more. Hillary Clinton seemed to realize that it’s a tough thing to do.
“Congratulations for five million viewers on YouTube,” she said. “That’s quite an accomplishment.”
YouTube’s 50-minute interview with President Obama last week has notched 997,040 views in two days, which does not mean that so many people were watching it live but still sets a high bar for the Democratic debate to live up to in the next 48 hours of Internet viewership.
The Democratic National Committee chose to hide frontrunner Hillary Clinton on a Sunday night on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend.