The first US presidential debate between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden attracted a smaller television audience than the record set four years ago, according to Nielsen data released on Wednesday.

An estimated 73.1 million people tuned in to the chaotic face-off on Tuesday night across 16 networks, below the record 84 million viewers who watched Trump debate former first lady Hillary Clinton, his rival in the 2016 election.

This represents a 13% decline from the 2016 record.

During 90 minutes marked by personal insults and Trump’s repeated interruptions, the candidates battled fiercely over the President’s record on the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and the economy.

The Nielsen numbers include people watching at home and at such venues as bars and restaurants.

It also included some digital viewership through televisions connected to the Internet.

The figures do not capture the full extent of online viewing, which has grown in popularity as traditional TV audiences decline.

The debate was streamed live on Twitter, YouTube, network websites and other digital platforms.

Fox News Channel attracted the biggest audience of any single network with 17.8 million viewers.

The event, the first of three presidential debates before the November 3 election,was moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace.

The group that manages US presidential election debates said on Wednesday it would take steps to bring order to the final two contests between Trump and Biden, which are scheduled for October 15 and October 22.

A debate between vice presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris is set for October 7.