In Depth

Broadcast TV News Audiences Fall Off for Bill Clinton, Biden

Broadcast television network audiences declined for Wednesday night’s coverage of the Democratic Convention, falling off from both the previous news cycle and the comparable night four years ago, according to preliminary national ratings data from Nielsen Media Research.

NBC finished first among broadcast networks’ 10 p.m.-11 p.m. convention coverage for the third night in a row and CBS moved into second for the first time this week.

Speeches by former President Bill Clinton and Democratic VP nominee Joe Biden attracted smaller audiences than the previous night, when New York Sen. Hillary Clinton urged her followers to vote for presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Nielsen’s preliminary national numbers showed NBC averaging 5.63 million viewers, down some 373,000 viewers from Tuesday night and down 650,000 viewers from the third night of the Democrats’ gathering in 2004, which took place July 28 of that year. About 4.58 million viewers watching NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” did not stay tuned for the network’s convention special.

CBS averaged 3.59 million viewers with its convention hour, down approximately 200,000 from both Tuesday night and from the comparable night in 2004. The convention coverage lost nearly 3.10 million viewers from the network’s lead in, a repeat of “Criminal Minds.”

ABC’s convention coverage averaged 3.31 million viewers Wednesday, down 1.49 million viewers from Tuesday night and down about 747,000 from four years ago. The convention special gained about 159,000 viewers who tuned in after a repeat of “Supernanny.”

Cable news networks’ ratings will be in later today, as will refined broadcast numbers that take into account live viewing in all time zones.

PBS’s live convention coverage from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT had its best night yet this week, averaging a 2.4 rating/4 share in overnight household ratings from 52 metered markets. That numbers is up from a 2.0 rating/3 share Tuesday and down slightly from a 2.5 rating/4 share in 2004.

(Editor: Baumann)