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Round 2 of Democratic Debate Is Party’s Most-Watched Ever

NBC says round two of the Democratic presidential debate was the party's most-watched ever.

Based on Nielsen figures out Friday, the event including early front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders averaged 18.1 million viewers across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

That topped the previous Democratic debate audience high of 15.5 million for an October 2015 event, which included eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

Viewership for that debate was previously estimated at 15.8 million.

Neither of this week's debates approached the audience for the first 2016 GOP primary debate, with newcomer Donald Trump driving curiosity. It drew nearly 24 million viewers on Fox News Channel.

The pair of Democratic debates, the first of the 2020 campaign, split a field of 20 contenders into two groups.

A headline-making exchange Thursday involved former Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, who sparred over Biden's civil rights record.

More must-read stories from Fortune:

—What the 2020 Democratic candidates didn’t say during the second debate

Harris has a strong showing, stuns Biden on night 2 of Democratic debate

—2019 Democratic debate night 2: Highlights

Fact-checking claims from night 1 of the Democratic debate

Fact-checking claims from night 2 of the Democratic debate