The first night of the Democratic National Convention drew about 25% fewer viewers across six networks than in 2016, according to early numbers from Nielsen Media Research.
The convention drew 18.7 million viewers in the 10 PM ET to 11:15 PM ET timeframe, when the most networks were carrying the convention proceedings, highlighted by a speech by former First Lady Michelle Obama. That compares to about 25 million who watched ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN in the same time period four years ago. The ratings information is from Nielsen Media and was released by Fox News and CNN.
The figures do not include viewers on other networks or on streaming and social media platforms, as the Democratic National Committee made a push to draw viewers to other feeds. According to TJ Ducklo, spokesman for Joe Biden’s campaign, 10.2 million watched via digital streams, surpassing the level of four years ago and bringing the total TV and online audience to 28.9 million.
MSNBC topped coverage with 5.1 million viewers, followed by 4.8 million for CNN, 2.4 million for ABC, 2.3 million for NBC, 2.1 million for Fox News and 2 million for CBS. CNN topped in the 25-54 demographic with 1.5 million, to 1 million for MSNBC, 676,000 for NBC, 650,000 for ABC, 438,000 for Fox News and 425,000 for CBS.
The broadcast networks carried only the final hour of the convention.
From the 9 PM to 11 PM time frame, MSNBC averaged 5 million viewers, compared to 4.7 million for CNN and 3 million for Fox News. In the 25-54 demo, CNN averaged 1.5 million, to 991,000 for MSNBC and 589,000 for Fox News. CNN and MSNBC carried the convention from 9 PM to 11 PM, while Fox News started with Hannity (including a break in to go to a speech by George Floyd’s family) and went to full convention coverage at 10 PM ET.
CNN said that its digital Multiplatform unique visitors rose by 19% vs. the first day of the 2016 Democratic Convention.
Nielsen released additional data, showing that 19.7 million watched the first night across 10 networks. That compares to 26 million viewers for the first night in 2016.
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