In Depth

GOP Convention Broadcast TV Ratings Lower than '04, Hillary Last Week

The second day of the Republican National Convention ended with NBC’s prime-time special winning a competition of small audiences.

According to preliminary national data from Nielsen Media Research, the three broadcast networks combined racked up a viewership of less than 11 million viewers, compared with the 14.8 million viewers who watched the networks’ coverage on the comparable night of the GOP gathering in 2004. That's also down from the 12.48 million who watched Senator Hillary Clinton’s call for unity among Democrats last week at that party's convention in Denver.

Two factors are worth noting: Hurricane Gustav's assault on Louisiana had essentially set back the Republicans’ attempts to get momentum by a day. Also, Democrat-turned-Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman’s speech, which closed the GOP show in St. Paul, Minn. Tuesday night, was not expected to be a stem-winder—and it lived up to expectations.

All three networks’ convention specials at 10 p.m. lost viewers from their lead-ins.
NBC averaged 4.93 million viewers from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., down from an 11.1 million lead-in for summer hit “America’s Got Talent.”

CBS finished second among the convention specials with an average 3.04 million viewers, down from 6.34 million for summer staple “Big Brother 10.”

ABC’s convention hour averaged 2.94 million viewers, down from 3.55 million viewers for summer dud “Wanna Bet.”

All three specials were down from the same night four years ago, when NBC posted 5.14 million viewers, followed by CBS (4.39 million and ABC (4.26 million).

More precise national ratings, as well as cable ratings, will be in later Wednesday.

(Editor: Baumann)