THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW - September 29, 2016
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*-- Early returns show first Clinton-Trump debate had largest audience in history --*
HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. - Early ratings returns indicate Monday's debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump had an average viewership of more than 80.9 million on broadcast and cable networks, making it the largest audience ever for a political debate.
CNN reported the 12 broadcast and cable networks, including NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News totaled about 80 million. That does not include streaming sites or PBS.
YouTube estimated various live feeds totaled 2.5 million people. That does not include the hundreds of news sites that had their own streaming video sources.
Because ratings companies only measure the number of televisions that are tuned in to a station, the number does not reflect the number of people who might have watched the event at debate watch parties, in bars, restaurants, airports or other public places.
NBC had the highest debate viewership, at 18.2 million people, according to CNN. While all stations had the same video feed, NBC benefited by having Lester Holt, the anchor of NBC Nightly News, as the debate moderator.
By comparison, the first debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012 had a total viewership of 67 million.
The record for debate viewership was set in 1980, when Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter squared off. It had 80.6 million viewers.
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