Politics 2015: Republican Debate Breaks Records for CNN

Interest in the early Republican primary debates continues to be huge.  CNN broke all-time network ratings records for its coverage of Wednesday’s debate.

The popularity and unpredictability of GOP front-runner Donald Trump certainly helped. Wednesday’s three-hour debate from Simi Valley, California, averaged 22.9 million viewers from 8:15 to 11:15 p.m. ET, according to Nielsen.

This is more than seven times what CNN drew for its first Republican primary debate of the 2012 cycle (3.16 million).

The first GOP primary debate, August 6 on FNC, drew 24 million viewers, the largest-ever same-night audience for a non-sports cable program, including roughly 7.9 million adults 25-54.

The ratings average for Wednesday’s debate likely was dragged down by its three-hour run time. The first GOP debate in August on Fox News came in at two hours.

Tapping its TV Everywhere service CNNgo, CNN live-streamed the debate on CNN.com and through its mobile apps. At 9:45 p.m. ET, usage peaked at 921,000 concurrentl live streams. The day saw 4.5 million live video starts of the debate across its digital platforms.

CNN’s first debate, featuring four lower-tier Republican presidential hopefuls, averaged about 6.3 million viewers, up a bit from the 6.1 million who watched the comparable debate on Fox News in August.

The next GOP primary debate, to be held in Boulder, Colorado, is scheduled for October 28 and will air on CNBC.

The first Democratic debate will be held October 13 from Las Vegas and will air on CNN.