Tuesday’s presidential debate on CNN was the highest-rated and most viewed debate for the Democratic Party ever, preliminary numbers from Nielsen show. It also set the all-time record for news live-streaming.
A whopping 15.3 million viewers tuned in to the presidential debate featuring Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Rhode Island Gov. and Sen. Lincoln Chafee, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, according to CNN, which televised the event live from Las Vegas in a co-sponsorship with Facebook.
This was the sixth-highest nonsports cable telecast ever and a new record for the party. Before last night’s debate, the 2008 Los Angeles debate featuring Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama with 8.3 million viewers held the record for best-performing Democratic primary debate.
Moderated by CNN news anchors Anderson Cooper, Dana Bash and Juan Carlos Lopez, Tuesday’s debate attracted 4.8 million viewers in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic prized by advertisers. This was the also the highest ever for a Democratic debate.
But Sanders and Clinton couldn’t beat the TV viewership that Donald Trump and the other nine candidates of the Republican primary debate raked in. The Republican presidential primary debate Aug. 6 hosted by Fox News drew a record 24 million viewers and was said to be the highest nonsports cable broadcast in history. The second Republican presidential debate Sept. 16 hosted by CNN drew 23 million viewers.
Where the Democrats did come out on top was in live-streaming. At 10:20 p.m., the number of people streaming at one time peaked at 980,000, passing the 921,000 peak concurrent streams CNN reported for its Republican debate. In fact, Tuesday’s debate set an all-time record for peak concurrent streams of a live news event, according to CNN.
— GIPHY (@giphy) October 14, 2015
The Democratic debate, while more subdued and respectful than what's been happening on the GOP side, did have some entertaining, applause-worthy moments. Among them were Bernie Sanders’ “Enough about the damn emails” comment, referring to questions regarding Clinton’s personal email use, Clinton saying she's enjoyed the Republican ire directed her way, and Cooper's comment that everyone in the auditorium has probably tried marijuana.
Of course, Trump drummed up attention during the Democratic debate with his live-tweets, which included statements like, "Can anyone imagine Chafee as president? No way" and "Sorry, there is no STAR on the stage tonight!" The #DemDebate hashtag trended on Twitter and Facebook throughout the evening.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Sanders had made the comment about marijuana use.