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 TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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 ClintonGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy 'Too Far Left' hashtag trends on Twitter Resistance or unhinged behavior? Partisan hatred reaches Trump's family MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSinger Neil Young says that America's presidents haven't done enough address climate change New poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide 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 RomneyDeval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne Ocasio-Cortez jabs 'plutocratic' late entrants to 2020 field Jon Huntsman expected to run for governor in Utah MORE, Herman CainHerman CainConservatives slam Beto O'Rourke over threat to tax-exempt status for religious organizations President 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' MORE, Rick PerryRick PerryHighly irregular: Rudy, the president, and a venture in Ukraine White House releases rough transcript of early Trump-Ukraine call minutes before impeachment hearing Overnight Energy: Perry replacement faces Ukraine questions at hearing | Dem chair demands answers over land agency's relocation | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders unveil 0B Green New Deal public housing plan 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 BidenBudget official says he didn't know why military aid was delayed: report Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide READ: Foreign service officer Jennifer Williams' closed-door testimony from the House impeachment inquiry MORE and other top-tier candidates including Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide Deval Patrick: a short runway, but potential to get airborne MORE (D) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNew poll catapults Buttigieg to frontrunner position in Iowa Growing 2020 field underscores Democratic divide Harris gets key union endorsement amid polling plateau MORE (D-Calif.), along with six other hopefuls.