CNN faced backlash for its first primary debate of the 2020 campaign season, with members of the media comparing its production to a sporting event or movie trailer and others lamenting the time spent to kick off the event.
Journalists noted that the event started on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. with an introduction video, a commercial break and opening statements. The first question to one of the ten candidates was not asked until 8:23 p.m., however.
Other journalists said the debate format did not allow enough time for detailed explanations regarding complicated policy issues, while others noted a lack of questions about foreign policy or veterans affairs.
The debate on Tuesday night was the first of two events with a total of 20 Democrats facing off at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. Moderators for both events are Jake Tapper, Dana Bash and Don Lemon.
Tapper and Bash's performance drew unusual praise from Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union.
The first Democratic debate on June 26 from Miami was watched by a total of 15.3 million viewers on NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo, matching the number of viewers who tuned into the first Democratic debate of the 2015-2016 primary season on CNN in October 2015.
Tuesday night's debate on CNN, which included some candidates who are in the top tier based on polling, notably Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), but not front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden or Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), is expected to draw a smaller audience than the first debate last month, primarily due to competition from the broadcast networks. Biden and Harris will likely be the focus on Wednesday night in Detroit.
ABC's "The Bachelorette" aired its finale on Tuesday night, while NBC's offered up a new episode of "America's Got Talent," which has rated well over the years since launching in 2006.
Final ratings for the first CNN debate will be available on Wednesday afternoon.
The most-watched primary debate in history occurred in August 2015, when more than 24 million people tuned in to Fox News for the event featuring Donald Trump's first debate as a candidate in Cleveland.