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 Trump 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 Clinton Democrats plot new approach to win over rural voters The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Rosenstein says he authorized release of Strzok-Page texts MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record The Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary 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 RomneyThe TRUST Act is a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors Republicans will pay on Election Day for politicizing Trump's impeachment Bring on the brokered convention MORE, Herman CainHerman CainTrump formally announces intent to nominate Waller, Shelton to Fed Is Joe Biden the Democrats' Mitt Romney of 2020? Conservatives skewer Trudeau after Trump calls him 'two-faced' MORE, Rick PerryRick PerrySunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial Parnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Overnight Energy: Appeals court tosses kids' climate suit | California sues Trump over fracking | Oversight finds EPA appointees slow-walked ethics obligations 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 BidenBiden alleges Sanders campaign 'doctored video' to attack him on Social Security record Sanders campaign responds to Biden doctored video claims: Biden should 'stop trying to doctor' public record Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger pens op-ed in defense of Biden: 'I stuttered once, too. I dare you to mock me' MORE and other top-tier candidates including Sanders, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (D) and Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-Calif.), along with six other hopefuls.