First Democratic debate draws estimated 10M viewers for NBC, early results show

The first night of the Democratic presidential debates drew an estimated 10 million viewers on NBC, according to early numbers first reported by The Hollywood Reporter.

The numbers are based on returns in roughly one-quarter of local Nielsen Media Research markets.

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Final ratings on the debate will be available Thursday afternoon.

The 10 million viewership number only pertains to NBC. MSNBC and Telemundo also simulcasted the debate. Those numbers are also expected Thursday afternoon from Nielsen. 

For context, the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential primary season on Fox News, which featured then-real estate mogul Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty MORE as a front-runner in his first political debate, drew more than 24 million viewers in August 2015.

On the Democratic side in 2015, CNN drew 15.3 million viewers for a debate headlined by former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 is not a family affair, for a change New York Democrat pens op-ed on why he opposes impeaching Trump Rob Zombie on canceling 'The Hunt': 'A bulls–-- sacrificial lamb that solves nothing in society' MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Biden's debate performance renews questions of health Saagar Enjeti rips Harris's 'empty promises' MORE (I-Vt.) and three other candidates.

In 2011, the ratings were substantially lower.

For the first GOP primary debate in May 2011, just 3.53 million viewers tuned in to Fox News to see Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt Romney2020 is not a family affair, for a change Fox Business' Lou Dobbs on Romney declining to endorse in 2020: 'What is wrong with this man?' Romney opposes Trump taking executive action to reduce capital gains taxes MORE, Herman CainHerman CainPresident Trump is right: Mainstream media 'do a very good job' Trump says media is part of vetting his nominees: 'We save a lot of money that way' Trump withdraws Ratcliffe as Intelligence pick MORE, Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: 2020 Democrats roll out climate plans ahead of CNN forum | Trump blasts CNN for 'ignoring' facts | Officials roll back Obama-era lightbulb rules | Dem contenders split over nuclear energy Trump administration rolls back Obama-era lightbulb rules In defense of Karamo Brown, and civility MORE and Newt GingrichNewton (Newt) Leroy GingrichMORE battle it out in the first round of the fight for the party's nomination.

In 2007, the numbers were even lower, with MSNBC drawing just 2.26 million viewers for the first Democratic debate in April 2007.

On the Republican side, only 2.19 million tuned in to ABC for the first GOP debate in August 2007.

The second night of the Democratic debate is slated for Thursday. It will feature former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenEric Holder: Democrats 'have to understand' that 'borders mean something' Young insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Biden says he'll release medical records before primaries MORE and other top-tier candidates including Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegOn The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure Saagar Enjeti rips Harris's 'empty promises' Overnight Defense: Afghanistan tops foreign policy issues at Dem debate | Erdogan says he'll discuss missile sale with Trump | US again challenges Beijing's claim to South China Sea MORE (D) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris keeps up 'little dude' attack on Trump after debate The crosshairs of extremism  On The Money: Democratic candidates lay into Trump on trade | China exempts US soybeans, pork from tariff hikes | Congress set to ignore Trump's wall request in stopgap measure MORE (D-Calif.), along with six other hopefuls.