CNN ratings for first night of Democratic debate hit 8.7 million TV viewers

The viewership was a significant decline in ratings from the first debate of the 2020 election cycle.
Image: Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate In Detroit Over Two Nights
Elizabeth Warren appears on television monitors in the press room of the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night in Detroit.Scott Olson / Getty Images

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By Claire Atkinson

Night 1 of CNN’s Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday attracted 8.7 million viewers, according to the cable network, a significant decline in ratings from the first debate of the 2020 election cycle.

The network also recorded 2.8 million starts for its livestream from the historic Fox Theatre in Detroit. The network said in a statement that combined viewership was 9.2 million when its other services, CNN en Español and CNN Digital, are included.

The broadcast Tuesday featured 10 Democratic candidates for president including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, and was the second-most watched Democratic debate in CNN’s history, illustrating continued public interest well ahead of the 2020 election.

The broadcast, helmed by anchors Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Don Lemon, focused on such issues as health care, immigration and race relations while largely leaving out questions about the recent testimony of former special counsel Robert Mueller or Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The first night of the first Democratic debate in Miami on June 26, which was hosted by NBC News, drew 15.3 million viewers across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

CNN is set to air the second debate featuring another 10 candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET.