CNN’s GOP Debate Is Most Watched Program in Network History With 22.9 Million Viewers

Additional 4.5 million watched via video streams

CNN’s Republican presidential debate was watched by 22.9 million people Wednesday night, making it the most watched program ever in the network’s history, according to Nielsen.

Additionally, 4.5 million viewers streamed the debate through CNNgo, and other mobile apps.

The final numbers are higher than earlier estimates, which put the number of total viewers at just under 20 million.

Even with the final numbers, CNN’s performance will fall a bit short Fox News’ 24 million viewers, which network chief Jeff Zucker said he expected.

As TheWrap previously reported, CNN has been widely criticized by its media colleagues for the length and tone of its debate. But numbers don’t lie and executives and producers will be smiling wide on Thursday with historic numbers to look at.

It also sets up high expectations for the network’s first Democratic debate on Oct. 13, which will draw interest from liberals and conservatives around the country who are eager to see how Hillary Clinton answers questions.

Bernie Sanders will also have all eyes on him as progressives and independents look to see if his summer surge is the real deal.