The first Democratic debate to feature Michael Bloomberg set a ratings record for the party. Between NBC and MSNBC, the broadcast drew an audience of 19.66 million, which jumps to just north of 20 million viewers if online streamers are included.
That marks the largest audience ever for a Democratic presidential debate, besting the previous record set in June when the second night of the first primary debate drew 18.1 million viewers. Both debates are dwarfed by the Republican record, however, which remains 24 million viewers for the GOP’s first debate of the 2016 cycle.
Wednesday’s ratings from Nevada increased sharply from the previous two debates in New Hampshire and Iowa, both of which averaged somewhere between seven and eight million viewers.
By comparison, “The Masked Singer” drew an audience of 7.02 million viewers, while the finale of “Criminal Minds” averaged 5.4 million.
Given the intensity of the uptick in viewership, it seems likely the presence of Bloomberg, who’s been blanketing key states in television ads, contributed heavily to the increase.