YouTube reports record views for the second presidential debate, but fewer live viewers

The cord cutting era is now in full effect, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the record numbers YouTube recorded for its airing of the second presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The video sharing site says that the debate’s live stream and on-demand videos surrounding it drew over 124 million views since Sunday – a figure which not only tops the first debate metrics by 40%, but also tops the 2012 viewership numbers, and the number of traditional TV viewers who tuned into to watch the debate live on television.

Nielsen said that an estimated 66.5 million tuned into to watch the Sunday night debate at Washington University in St. Louis. This includes the major networks (CNN, ABC, CBS, Fox News, Fox, and MSNBC), which drew in a combined 60 million viewers alone. With the Spanish language broadcasters and smaller networks included, viewership reached 66.5 million.

That figure was down from the first televised debate – a decline that’s been attributed, in part, to competition from “NBC’s Sunday Night Football,” which saw over 15 million viewers.

However, YouTube’s boasting of “over 124 million views” isn’t exactly an apples-to-apples comparison with live television.

For starters, YouTube’s metrics come from a worldwide audience, while Nielsen only counts U.S viewers. YouTube, meanwhile, says other top countries who tuned in to watch included Canada, Mexico, Australia, Great Britain, and Vietnam.

Secondly, the video sharing site is combining live stream viewership along with on-demand viewership over a period of days. That means it’s counting anything “debate-related” (not just the debate itself) along with the numbers of live viewers.

That being said, with the combination of the live viewership and video-on-demand numbers, YouTube says total debate viewership increased by 40% from the first debate to the second one. The former saw 88 million combined views, compared with the 124 million this time around, over the same time frame.

But when it comes to live viewership alone, the numbers dropped a bit for Sunday’s debate.

YouTube reports the second debate saw over 1.5 million peak concurrent live viewers, and over 2.5 million live watch hours. This was slightly less than the first debate, which saw nearly 2 million peak concurrent live viewers and 3 million live watch hours. (These figures are pulled from the six news organizations that streamed the debate).

YouTube’s figures for this second debate are still higher than in years past, though.

This year’s second presidential debate saw 5 times the peak concurrent viewers than the 2012 second debate, and nearly 6 times higher live watch hours, the company says.

The 2016 viewers were also highly engaged, YouTube adds, watching for nearly 25 minutes.

YouTube wasn’t the only one touting its big debate numbers, we should note.

Twitter’s live stream of Bloomberg Politics’ presidential debate broadcast on Sunday night reached 3.2 million unique viewers, the company said. This was an increase of 30% over the first presidential debate, which reached 2.5 million unique viewers. It was also the most tweeted debate ever, with over 17 million debate-related tweets sent, and Sunday became the most tweeted day of the entire 2016 election, with nearly 30 million tweets sent.