Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was seen by 81.4 million viewers across numerous broadcast and cable networks, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched debate in history. The 1980 encounter between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter was seen by 80.6 million.
The bulk of viewers watched on the four major broadcast networks, with 43.8 million tuning in. An estimated 26.1 million watched the three cable news networks with Fox News (11.359 million) attracting the most viewers.
The bulk of viewers watched on the network-owned stations, but other networks simulcast the debate, including Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, PBS, CNBC, MSNBC, Univision, Telemundo and C-SPAN. The networks’ websites also simulcast the debate. Numerous other websites, from BuzzFeed to Yahoo, streamed the debate, but those numbers are not counted by Nielsen.
There are 115.6 million homes in the United States with TVs; however, Nielsen doesn’t count one person per viewing household, but — on average — over two.
Pundits in recent days had thrown around a figure of 100 million viewers as the benchmark that could be possibly be achieved, or even exceeded.