Monday night’s first presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump was the most-watched political debate in history, according to early ratings figures.
CNN reported Tuesday that an average of 80.9 million people tuned in to view the debate across all 12 cable and broadcast networks that carried it, according to early ratings figures compiled by Nielsen.
That number — already the highest viewer total in the 60-year history of televised debates — is likely to be revised upward as figures from PBS and streaming services are tallied later Tuesday. The debate was streamed on various online channels including YouTube and Facebook, and on Twitter in partnership with Bloomberg Politics.
Monday’s debate broke the viewership record set in 1980, when Republican Ronald Reagan and Democrat Jimmy Carter squared off in front of an audience of 80 million people.
On the broadcast networks, NBC led the pack with 18.2 million total viewers, followed by ABC (11.3 million) and then CBS (11 million). NBC’s Lester Holt moderated the debate, which was broadcast live from Hofstra University in New York.
On cable, Fox News took the total viewership crown with 11.4 million viewers, while CNN beat out all other networks in the key 25-54 demo with 4.4. million viewers. CNN picked up 9.8 million total viewers, while MSNBC lagged with 4.9 million, according to the Wrap.
Among Spanish-language broadcast networks that simulcast the debate, Univision drew 2.1 million viewers, ahead of Telemundo’s 1.7 million viewers.
Monday night’s debate was also the “most-tweeted” presidential debate contest ever, CNN reported, though the final figures were not immediately available on Tuesday afternoon. The number of tweets issued during the Trump-Clinton debate bested the 10.3 million tweets sent during the first presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum
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