Clinton-Trump Debate: YouTube Draws Nearly 2 Million Live Viewers, Online Record for Political Event

Clinton Trump Debate
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

YouTube said Monday night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton set a record for a live-streaming political event, with nearly 2 million live concurrent viewers.

The Google-owned video service live-streamed the debate from six media outlets: NBC News, Fox News Channel, PBS, the Washington Post, Univision and Telemundo. On TV, the event pulled in 84 million viewers across 13 networks, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched presidential debate to date.

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Still, the Clinton-Trump confrontation didn’t come close to the most-viewed live-streaming event in YouTube’s history. That high-water mark still belongs to the Red Bull Stratos space jump by skydiver Felix Baumgartner in October 2012, which more than 8 million people watched live concurrently on YouTube.

During Monday’s debate, YouTube said it served 3 million live watch hours across the six news organizations streaming the debate. Overall, YouTube said all debate-related video exceeded 88 million views on Monday.

YouTube’s audience far outstripped the numbers for its 2012 live-stream of ABC News’ coverage of the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Compared with four years ago, the Clinton-Trump debate delivered 14 times the live-viewing audience, five times higher watch time, and four times more peak concurrent viewers.

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On Facebook, ABC News’ coverage of the debate topped 8 million total views, but the companies did not break out number of unique viewers. CBS said its CBSN digital streaming news service set a new single-day viewership record Monday with 2.98 million streams and 1.4 million unique viewers. Twitter was also in the debate-night streaming mix, carrying Bloomberg TV’s feed on its service, but at press time had not released viewership figures.

Over the network of Akamai Technologies, live-streaming video traffic from Monday night’s presidential debate peaked at 4.4 terabits per second — nearly at the level the 2016 Rio Olympic Games highest single-event peak of 4.5 Tbps during the women’s team gymnastics final. According to Akamai, 4.4 Tbps is the equivalent of downloading 110 two-hour HD movies every second.

YouTube said the U.S. represented the bulk of the debate viewers, followed by Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

YouTube plans to live-stream the remaining debates, including the Oct. 4 VP debate with Mike Pence and Tim Kaine, followed by the scheduled reconvening of Trump and Clinton on Oct. 9 and 19.

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