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Fox News’ GOP Debate Grabs 16.9 Million Viewers

The Republicans have the highest-rated debate of 2016

Donald Trump’s return to the Fox News debate stage resulted in the most-watched debate of 2016.

The FNC GOP Presidential primary debate averaged 16.9 million viewers last night, marking the highest-rated debate of the year. Trump famously skipped the last debate on Fox News after an on-going feud with the network’s boss, Roger Ailes.

Bret Baier, Megyn Kelly and Chris Wallace co-moderated the record-breaking debate, which also broke the previous 2016 debate record among the key demo of adults age 25-54, delivering 5.5 million viewers.

The debate was the most-watched program on all of TV last night.

While 16.9 million is obviously a huge number of viewers, it falls short of the first Trump-Fox debate. Last summer’s GOP debate on Fox News was the most-watched non-sporting event in cable history with 24 million viewers. The Trump-less FNC GOP debate in January averaged 12.5 million viewers.

A special post-debate edition of “The O’Reilly Factor” averaged 7.4 million viewers, marking the show’s highest-rated telecast of the year. Fox News also had a big night on the digital side of things.

The network’s debate live stream had 2.4 million video starts and peaked at 1,489,937 concurrent streams, according to Omniture and Akamai. This marks the most-watched primary event ever, via live stream.

In addition, Baier was featured on the official Instagram account and blog garnering nearly 430,000 likes. Instagram featured a behind the scenes look at the debate through the work of several photojournalists on the ground in Detroit.

The next GOP debate is Thursday on CNN.