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First Democratic Debate Was Most-Watched TV Program Last Night

Democratic presidential hopefuls (fromL) former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper, US entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg participate in the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)Democratic presidential hopefuls (fromL) former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper, US entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg participate in the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)        (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential hopefuls (fromL) former Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper, US entrepreneur Andrew Yang and Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg participate in the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami, Florida, June 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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