Record audience tunes in for GOP debate

A record television audience tuned in for Thursday night’s GOP presidential debate.

Deadline reported Friday afternoon that 24 million viewers watched the debate on Fox between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Thursday, seven times more than the 3.2 million people who tuned in for the first Republican debate of the 2012 campaign.

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In the 25 to 54-year-old demographic, Deadline said there were 7.9 million viewers.

Early Friday, CNN Money reported that Nielson’s 16.0 household rating meant the debate was on TV in 16 percent of U.S. homes. In 2011 and 2012, about 5 percent of households watched the Republican primary debates. Though more viewers tuned into the 2008 Democratic primary debates, the numbers never topped 10 percent, according to CNN Money.

TVNewser went as far as to call the event the most-watched cable news program of all time and Fox New network’s most-watched program ever.

The most watched primary debate in history was on ABC in December 2011 with 7.36 million viewers, said the TV news outlet, which reports on TV ratings, talent moves and program shifts.   

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE has been credited for likely driving the high viewer numbers.

The businessman dominated the first debate with a volatile and controversial performance. In the first 10 minutes of the debate, he refused to rule out a third-party run and took jabs at both Rosie O’Donnell and Fox News anchor and debate moderator Megyn Kelly.