The Republican debate Thursday night appears to be the most-watched primary debate ever, according to early viewership data from Nielsen. CNN reports that the debate between 10 Republican candidates for President on Fox News was watched by 16% of U.S. TV households. That translates to about 10 million total viewers. The highest-rated Republican debates during the 2012 election cycle were watched by about 5% of households, and the more widely viewed Democratic primary debates between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in 2008 were still never watched by more than 10% of households.
Viewership was likely driven by Donald Trump, who has whipped up an avalanche of media coverage and is leading primary polls. CNN will air another debate in September, and NBC will air one in October.
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