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First Clinton-Trump debate breaks viewership records

Key moments from debate

The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has broken the record for debate viewership, preliminary ratings estimates show.

The Nielsen company announced that 81.4 million watched the Clinton-Trump debate on 11 networks, according to the Associated Press, breaking the previous record of 80 million set by the 1980 Jimmy Carter-Ronald Reagan debate.

The four major networks, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, showed a total of 45.8 million viewers tuned in for the 90-minute debate, according to the Nielsen Fast Affiliate ratings cited by the Hollywood Reporter. NBC had 16.9 million viewers, followed by ABC (12.6 million), CBS (11.3 million) and Fox (5.1 million). This is more than the 39.8 million drawn by the four nets during the first 2012 debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. When other networks were included, that debate drew 67.2 million total. By comparison, this year’s Super Bowl drew over 100 million viewers for CBS. 

Every network and nearly all cable news channels carried the debate, in addition to other streaming and online sites. Further updates are expected throughout the day from streaming services like CBSN, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and others.