Over six days of primetime political party coverage, Fox News Channel has come out on top among the networks and its cable news rivals. In the 10-11 PM ET hour, according to Nielsen, Fox pulled in an average of 5.33 million viewers over the three nights of the Republican National Convention and the three nights of the Democratic National Convention. Fox News’ closest competitor was NBC, which garnered an average audience of 5.03 million. However, NBC’s numbers are averaged over five nights, not six. The numbers don’t include anything from Wednesday for NBC as the network aired the NFL season opener instead.
In 2008, when John McCain and Sarah Palin were the GOP nominees and Obama and Biden were first nominated, NBC still only broadcast five nights of overall convention coverage but won anyway with 6.11 million viewers on average over the nights. Fox came second four years ago with an average of 5.80 million viewers over six nights. This year ABC came in third over the six nights with an average audience of 3.66 million during the live 10-11 PM hour that it aired the conventions. CBS had 3.39 million, while CNN had 3.12 million and MSNBC 2.97 million. Almost all of the networks went passed 11 PM every night of both events, with ABC being the one to go the latest with its 11:29 PM out on Wednesday. That was the night former President Clinton gave his speech.
Fox News had the highest total convention viewership of all networks with the 9.10 million it pulled in August 30. That was Day 3 of the RNC, the one that saw Clint Eastwood as the surprise speakerand GOP standard bearer Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination. In terms of the 25-54 demo, NBC had the best numbers there on average and on a single night. The network pulled in an average of 1.94 million in the demo over the six nights. Its best night was actually last night, the last of the DNC, when it got 3.08 million in the 25-54. Thursday night, when Obama accepted his party’s nomination, was the best night overall for NBC with 7.37 million viewers. Behind FNC’s August 30 viewership, NBC’s audience last night was actually the second best night overall in the 10 – 11 PM EDT slot among the networks and cable news channels.
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Over 35.71 million watched the last night of the DNC over the 13 different networks that were showing the convention between 10 and 11:15 PM EDT. That’s better than the 30.3 million who watched the last night of the RNC but it’s down from 38.4 million who watched the last night of the 2008 DNC over the 10 networks showing it.