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Trump-Clinton debate sets records online and on TV

An estimated 84 million people watched the presidential debate on television, says Nielsen. Millions more joined the fray online.

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

More than 80 million people tuned in Monday night for the first presidential debate.

And that was just on TV.

The numbers are still being sorted out, but millions more watched the spirited give-and-take between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other streaming services.

Facebook said real-time video of the debate was streamed 55 million times, though that undoubtedly includes multiple views by the same person. Facebook Live, the social network's video service, hosted streams of the main event, as well as postgame commentary, from ABC News, Fox News, PBS NewsHour, BuzzFeed, The New York Times, Univision, C-SPAN and others.

In total, Facebook said, 18.6 million people in the US generated 73.8 million likes, posts, comments and shares related to the debate last night.

The online channels combined with conventional television created a mammoth audience for the debate, one of the most contentious political throw-downs in recent memory. The debate set records on television, drawing in 84 million viewers across 13 channels, according to ratings giant Nielsen, more than any other televised American presidential debate.

The joust between Clinton and Trump was among the biggest live streams in YouTube's history. Nearly 2 million live concurrent viewers navigated to the site for the punch-up. Viewers watched roughly 3 million hours of live video across the six news organizations that streamed the debate on the service, according to a YouTube blog post.

Many news organizations also streamed the debate on their websites and via apps. CBSN, which was available via CBSNews.com and mobile and set-top box apps, drew 2.98 million streams and 1.4 million unique viewers on Monday, CBS said in a release. The company said it also set a new hourly record for streams during the first hour of the debate. (CNET is owned by CBS.)

Twitter, which live streamed Bloomberg TV's coverage of the debate, hasn't said how many people watched via its site and apps. But Nielsen said the debate generated 17.1 million engagements from 2.7 million people on the social network.