Convention Coverage Up on Cable, PBS, Down on Big Three

Jul 27, 2004  •  Post A Comment

For cable news networks, opening night coverage of the Democratic National Convention drew bigger crowds to the TV set than those that tuned into the Democratic gathering in 2000.

Data from Nielsen Media Research showed decreased viewer interest in the hour of prime time coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC compared to opening night in 2000. By contrast, in the three prime time hours PBS convention coverage averaged 6.4 million viewers, up 9 percent from opening night 2000.

Nielsen compared the 10 to 11 p.m. hour of convention coverage, since that’s the only hour in which each outlet covering the convention Monday night was focused on the event. In that hour, CBS-with some of its strongest entertainment programming as a lead-in-had a slight lead, attracting an average 4.552 million viewers. NBC’s convention hour was seen by an average of 4.532 million viewers, followed by ABC with 4.403 million. On the comparable night in 2000, ABC averaged 6.38 million, followed by NBC with 5.97 million. Only household ratings were available for comparison for CBS, which had labeled its 2000 convention coverage a special edition of “48 Hours.” Monday night, CBS logged a 3.2 rating/5 share compared to a 3.8/7 in 2000.

On the cable side, CNN got a rare win over Fox News Channel. For the 10 p.m. hour, CNN averaged 2.55 million viewers compared to 1.44 million for Fox News and 1.05 million for MSNBC. Looking at the 8-11 p.m. prime time block CNN averaged slightly more than 2 million viewers, followed by Fox News (1.64 million) and MSNBC (1.14 million). For CNN, that’s an increase of 24 percent over the comparable night in 2000. In 2000, MSNBC averaged 607,000 to rank second with Fox News bringing up the rear with 404,000 viewers.