The raucous Republican primary debate gave Fox News its second largest audience ever on Thursday.
Nielsen data show an average of 16.9 million viewers tuned into the 11th meeting of the contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination held at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Only the first Republican debate of the 2016 presidential campaign - watched by 24 million viewers on Aug. 6 - delivered a larger audience for Fox News.
Flanked by Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, Kelly remained tough on Trump, pressing him with details from the civil suit filed by former students of Trump University who have contended the mogul committed fraud.
The schoolyard insults between Sen. Marco Rubio and Trump also made the debate worthy of a PG-13 rating.
The audience for Thursday’s event ranks fourth overall in the 2016 campaign season, ranking behind the debates held on Aug. 6 on Fox News, and Sept. 16 (23 million) and Dec. 15 (18.1 million) on CNN. All four were Republican candidate showdowns. The largest audience for a Democratic primary debate was 15.45 million viewers on Oct. 13.
Fox News also set a new high for concurrent live streams of a primary debate, with 1.489 million, according to Omniture and Akamai. The debate was available for free streaming on FoxNews.com.