A massive 24 million viewers, according to Nielsen, tuned in to watch the debate, aired on the Fox News Channel. And some 8 million 25-54 viewers -- the key news demographic for advertisers -- showed up Thursday night.
The debate now registers as the most-watched non-sports cable TV program in history. Last October, the Season Five premiere of “The Walking Dead” pulled in 17.3 million viewers -- the previous record holder.
Overall, the most viewed cable network program is ESPN’s 2015 New Year’s Day Sugar Bowl -- 28.3 million viewers.
Trump -- who has made many controversial remarks since he announced his candidacy -- was forecast to help the debate score big results.
Four years ago, for the 2012 presidential election, the first Republican presidential debate on Fox News in 2011 pulled in 3.2 million viewers. The final 2012 presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney pulled in 11.5 million viewers.
The debate include the top 10 polling Republican candidates — Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie and John Kasich.