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.


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 TrumpProtesters tear down statue of Christopher Columbus in Baltimore 'Independence Day' star Bill Pullman urges Americans to wear a 'freedom mask' in July 4 PSA Protesters burn American flag outside White House after Trump's July Fourth address 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 ClintonDemocrats try to turn now into November The Memo: Unhappy voters could deliver political shocks beyond Trump On The Trail: Trump, coronavirus fuel unprecedented voter enthusiasm MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Memo: Unhappy voters could deliver political shocks beyond Trump Democratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed plane Neil Young opposes use of his music at Trump Mount Rushmore event: 'I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux' 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 RomneyQAnon scores wins, creating GOP problem Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE, Herman CainHerman CainKimberly Guilfoyle tests positive for coronavirus Former presidential candidate Herman Cain diagnosed with coronavirus On The Money: Trump adviser presses House to make Bezos testify | Kudlow says tax-cut proposal coming this fall | NY Fed says Boeing woes could hurt GDP | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline MORE, Rick PerryRick PerryTexas cities say state is making pandemic worse Coronavirus Report: The Hill's Steve Clemons interviews Ernest Moniz Trump issues executive order to protect power grid from attack 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 BidenTrump hits 'radical left,' news media, China in Independence Day address Kaepernick on July Fourth: 'We reject your celebration of white supremacy' Jaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham MORE and other top-tier candidates including Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegDemocratic lawmakers call for expanding, enshrining LGBTQ rights Democrats debate Biden effort to expand map against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Dems, GOP dig in on police reform ahead of House vote MORE (D) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisJaime Harrison seeks to convince Democrats he can take down Lindsey Graham Senators push foreign media to disclose if they are registered as foreign agents Warnock raises almost M in Georgia Senate race in second quarter MORE (D-Calif.), along with six other hopefuls.