The first US presidential debate between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican rival Donald Trump has shattered the record for debate viewership on TV and broken multiple internet records as the most-watched debate in American history. According to data provider Nielsen, an estimated 84 million people in the US tuned in to watch the 98-minute debate on TV, breaking the previous record set by Ronald Reagan's debate with Jimmy Carter back in 1980 that drew 80.6 million viewers.

Although the viewership figures fell short of the 100 million viewers that some analysts predicted, the latest numbers are still impressive considering the fact that people had no internet and fewer entertainment options 36 years ago.

However, the figures only counted viewers who watched the debate on the 13 TV channels that carried it live in the US, which means the actual total viewership figures could be much higher.

On TV, NBC garnered the biggest audience with more than 18 million people followed by ABC (13.5 million), CBS (12.1 million), Fox News (11.4 million) and CNN (9.9 million).

CBS's digital news division, CBSN, said the debate drew 2.98 million streams and 1.4 million unique viewers.

YouTube reports that the candidate showdown "marked the largest political live stream of all time" and was one of the biggest live streams in YouTube history as well. The record-breaking stream pulled in almost two million live concurrent viewers and racked up three million live watch hours spread across the six major news outlets that streamed the event on YouTube.

YouTube also found that the top country outside of the US that turned in to watch the event live on YouTube was Canada followed by Mexico, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

The face-off between Clinton and Trump also dominated social media, pulling in 17.1 million Twitter interactions from 2.7 million people in the US. While Twitter did not provide the raw number of tweets sent surrounding the event, the social media giant said it was the most tweeted presidential debate ever, surpassing the 10.3 million messages sent during the first presidential debate between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in 2012.

Facebook, on the other hand, said 18.6 million people in the US generated 73.8 million posts, likes, comments and shares related to the debate. Real-time videos related to the debate on the social media platform garnered 55 million views, Facebook said.

Trump also managed to dominate the conversation on social media. On Facebook, Trump picked up 79% of the site's chatter over Clinton's 21%. On Twitter, 62% of the Twitter conversation went to @realDonaldTrump while @HillaryClinton claimed 38%.

The most discussed moments on Twitter included Trump's description of his temperament followed by his "stop and frisk" comments. The third most discussed Twitter moment involved Trump and Clinton's exchange on their plans to defeat the Islamic State (Isis).

There are two more presidential debates scheduled before Election Day on 8 November that are set for 9 October and 19 October.