The 2020 presidential election is still 495 days away, but networks are already mining it for ratings.NBCUniversal’s networks, including NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, drew a total of 15.3 million viewers on Wednesday for the first night of two Democratic debates, according to Nielsen data cited by the company. It was the most-watched TV program of the night.
The ratings were dwarfed by the first Republican debate of 2015, when 24 million viewers tuned in to watch Donald Trump spar with moderator Megyn Kelly. But Wednesday’s showdown did top the ratings of every primary debate during the 2008 and 2012 election cycles, said NBC, a division of Comcast Corp. And another 9 million people streamed the event online.
In hosting the events, NBCUniversal is contending with a record-large field of Democratic candidates. The Wednesday broadcast had some glitches, including microphone problems, and the camera had to jump around between 10 presidential hopefuls.
Thursday’s debate will have 10 additional candidates, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
More must-read stories from Fortune:
—4 times 2020 candidates clashed during the Democratic debate
—5 things to watch for on night 2 of the Democratic presidential debate
—What the 2020 Democratic candidates didn’t say during the first debate
—Elizabeth Warren holds her own as lesser-knowns break out in first debate
—Julián Castro breaks out in a debate defined by border policy and immigration
—Can socialism win in 2020? Democrats aren’t embracing it