The United States is finally starting to catch its breath after Tuesday's tumultuous presidential debate that shocked the world. Nielsen has published its TV ratings for the 90-minute event and it attracted 73.1 mllion viewers which it makes it the third most-watched debate in history. Despite the fact that Tuesday's contest trails the 84.4 million figure for Donald Trump's first debate against Hillary Clinton as well as the 80.6 milllion who tuned in for Ronald Reagan's 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, its viewership was still massive and it was the biggest U.S. TV event since last February's Super Bowl.
The number of people who subjected themselves to the shouting match is probably much higher than Nielsen's figure which only takes TV viewers into account. People followed the debate in other ways such as live streaming, through news feeds or by listening to it on the radio. The number of people streaming the event is one possible reason for the decline in viewers compared to the first debate in 2016 while voter fatigue may have played a role in some people avoiding it. Despite its unpleasant nature, Nielsen's data shows that nearly all viewers watched the debate in its entirety.