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The second night of the first Democratic presidential debate of the 2020 election cycle drew a record audience of more than 18 million people, building on strong viewership for Night One of the debate, NBC announced on Friday.
The size of the television audience — the largest ever to watch a Democratic primary debate — coupled with strong digital viewership indicates significant public interest in who the party will pick to oppose President Donald Trump well ahead of the Democratic primaries early next year.
NBC aired the debate on its flagship broadcast channel as well as MSNBC and Telemundo. Wednesday night's debate drew 15.3 million viewers.
Both nights featured 10 candidates, but Thursday's lineup included more big names, including former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris.
In addition to the TV audience, NBC said another 9 million viewers livestreamed the debate through several online platforms.
Thursday's debate also featured a more contentious tone, most notably between Biden and Harris over racial issues and policies. That spilled over into Friday, as Biden's team has sought to contain any fallout from the debate.
Biden remains ahead in many of the polls of the Democratic nominees. The candidates now have about a month until the next debate, scheduled for July 30 and 31 in Detroit and hosted by CNN.