The first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fell short of initial projections in viewership, but still set records as the most-watched and most-tweeted debate in history.
According to Nielsen, 84 million people tuned in to watch the highly anticipated match-up between Clinton and Trump across 13 networks, breaking the previous record of 81 million set in 1980 by Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, when there were just three networks covering the debates.
Early estimates projected that the Clinton-Trump debate would hit 100 million viewers, which would have put it into Super Bowl territory.
NBC led the pack with 18 million viewers on broadcast TV, while Fox News led the cable pack with 11.4 million viewers.
In addition to the TV viewers, it’s likely that millions more watched the debates online, an option that didn’t exist in 1980.
Twitter announced that it was also a record setting night for the company with 17.1 million interactions from 2.7 million people in the U.S., topping the 10.3 million tweets from the 2012 match-up between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Facebook reported that 18.6 million people in the U.S. generated 73.8 million likes, posts, comments and shares about the debate, with 55 million views of debate-related Facebook Live videos, underscoring the importance of social media in the election process.
Viewers who were expecting a knock-down-drag-out fight between Clinton and Trump were generally disappointed. Unless there is a major development in the next few weeks, the next two debates will probably not attract the same level of interest as Monday’s over-hyped debate.
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