Mike Bloomberg’s Debut Hands NBC News the Most-Watched Democratic Debate Ever

NBC and MSNBC simulcast is also the highest-rated Dem debate of all time in key adults 25-54 demographic

Last Updated: February 20, 2020 @ 3:45 PM

Wednesday’s Democratic debate broke ratings records to become the most-watched ever for the left, according to Nielsen numbers. The hype surrounding Mike Bloomberg’s debut on the big stage surely helped with that.

The primary debate aired on NBC and MSNBC from 9 p.m. ET to 11 p.m. ET, bringing in an average of 19.658 million total viewers. Of those viewers, 5.310 million came from the advertiser-coveted age demographic of adults 25-54.

That haul made the Las Vegas event the top-rated Democratic debate ever, too. Wednesday night marked the ninth Democratic debate of this ongoing cycle, one which aims to unseat President Donald Trump in November.

Speaking of Trump, the most-watched GOP debate ever comes from August 2015, when he famously sparred with then-Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly and brought 23.9 million viewers to Fox News Channel. Trump vs. Hillary Clinton’s debates for the presidency in 2016 more than tripled that.

After last night, NBC News and MSNBC now claim the Top 2 Democratic debates and Top 3 Democratic debate nights.

The live streams provided by MSNBC and NBC News also racked up big numbers, bringing in 13.5 million views. Across the available platforms — NBCNews.com, MSNBC.com, NBC News NOW on OTT devices — there were almost 22 million video views, NBC News said. In total, that translates to around 417,000 viewers.

Six Democratic presidential candidates were in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. After eight previous debates, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary and a considerable thinning of the roster, the remaining candidates came ready to spar.

The lineup Wednesday included primary latecomer Bloomberg, who qualified for the debate despite not appearing on the ballot in this weekend’s Nevada caucuses — and only after the Democratic National Committee changed qualification requirements to accommodate him.

Missing was Andrew Yang, the champion of Universal Basic Income (UBI) who recently dropped out of the race. Interestingly enough, Yang is considering a run for mayor of New York City — the old Bloomberg job.