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Democratic debate in Las Vegas sets ratings record

The revelation that skateboard legend Tony Hawk was inside “The Masked Singer’s” elephant costume had nothing on Wednesday’s Democratic debate.

The two-hour event at Paris Las Vegas that marked Michael Bloomberg’s first onstage appearance attracted nearly 20 million viewers to become the most-watched of any debate designed to whittle the Democratic field.

Across NBC and MSNBC, the debate drew 19.66 million viewers, eclipsing the record 18.1 million who tuned in for the second of a two-night field last June.

Wednesday’s numbers are within shouting distance of the 23.6 million who saw the Oscars this month.

The preceding debate, shown Feb. 7 on CNN from New Hampshire, attracted just 7.86 million viewers.

The big jump in numbers showed how curious people were to see how Bloomberg, who had been flooding the airwaves with commercials, did the first time he met his competitors in verbal combat.

It was a rough start for Bloomberg, who drew sharp attacks from his rivals, particularly Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

The session’s first half-hour was particularly action-packed.

The ratings also indicate that with Super Tuesday primaries approaching next month, voters are starting to pay closer attention.

NBC said the debate attracted an additional digital audience of 417,000 viewers.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the overall record audience for a primary debate is the 24 million Fox News viewers who saw the first exchange among the members of the 2016 Republican field.

“The Masked Singer,” meanwhile, drew 7.02 million sets of eyes on Wednesday night.

Contact Christopher Lawrence at clawrence@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4567. Follow @life_onthecouch on Twitter. The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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