YouTube has announced that Monday night's presidential debate between candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton broke viewing records for a political event on the online streaming service. The debate garnered nearly 2 million live concurrent viewers, many times that of the presidential debates during the last election cycle in 2012.
YouTube said that the debate was "the largest political live stream of all time and was one of the biggest live streams in YouTube history." In addition to the 2 million live concurrent viewers, the 90-minute-long event also racked up 3 million live watch hours according to the streamer.
Six separate news organizations — NBC News, Fox News Channel, PBS, The Washington Post, Univision and Telemundo — streamed the debate via YouTube, which touted the numbers relative to those of the 2012 presidential debate viewership tallies.
"Compared to 2012, last night's debate had 14x larger live viewership, 5x higher watch time, and 4x more peak concurrent viewers. And views on all debate-related videos exceeded 88 million," the company stated on its blog. YouTube also announced the five countries other than the U.S. that racked up the most live views on the service. They are, in descending order, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
While the debate viewership broke records for a political event, they didn't come close to the all- time record for concurrent viewership of an event on YouTube. That honor still goes to skydiver Felix Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos space jump in October 2012.
Facebook also racked up some impressive viewing numbers for the debate with its live stream of ABC News coverage. While the company reported 8 million total views, unique viewership numbers were not announced.
The debate also achieved huge numbers on broadcast TV, with the four networks combined recording 45.31 million viewers for the event. NBC led the pack with 16.6 million viewers, followed by ABC (12.46 million), CBS (11 million) and Fox (5.25 million). NBC's debate viewership numbers were likely boosted by its 8 p.m. lead in to the event, The Voice, which had the highest network ratings for the half hour preceding the broadcast. An addition of 25 million plus viewers watched the program on the three big cable news outlets, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
YouTube will also join those same broadcast and cable networks in covering the upcoming vice presidential debate between the running mates for Trump and Clinton, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, scheduled to take place on Oct. 4. The two remaining presidential debates, slated for Oct. 9 and Oct. 19, will also be live streamed on the service.