March 30, 2020

Democrats Set a TV Ratings Record at Their Las Vegas Debate

The Wednesday debate may have generated interest thanks to the addition of a newcomer: Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, who has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on television commercials and online ads since entering the race in November.

Mr. Bloomberg is not on the ballot for the next contest — Saturday’s Nevada caucuses — but rival television executives signaled before Wednesday’s debate that viewer interest would be stoked by the prospect of watching the billionaire mix it up with five Democratic rivals.

Mr. Bloomberg seemed sluggish as he tried to fend off frequent attacks from his competitors, most notably by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Nearly eight months after the current cycle’s first Democratic presidential debate, the Las Vegas edition was the most energetic, freewheeling and ferocious so far.

The moderators were Lester Holt and Chuck Todd of NBC, Hallie Jackson of NBC and MSNBC, Vanessa Hauc of Noticias Telemundo and Jon Ralston of The Nevada Independent. Ms. Hauc had a tense face-off with Senator Amy Klobuchar after pressing her on her failure to name the president of Mexico during an interview on Telemundo this week.

The great majority of viewers did not turn away as the two-hour debate went on. In the first hour, which started at 9 p.m. Eastern time, the average combined audience for NBC and MSNBC stood at 19.9 million. In the second hour, 19.4 million were watching, according to Nielsen.

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