Republican Convention Television Ratings Down Significantly From 2008
Despite the Clint Eastwood gambit, ratings for the final night of the Republican National Convention were down significantly from their 2008 levels:
Continuing the trend, TV ratings for the final night of the Republican National Convention were down compared to 2008. 25.28 million viewers tuned in to see Mitt Romney accept the GOP nomination and Clint Eastwood make a… memorable appearance. The numbers were an improvement over the previous night’s viewership, which was just over 20 million.
Yet again, audiences peaked during the finale speech. MSNBC actually peaked towards the end of the speech rather than the beginning.
Yet again, Fox News dominated in the 10-11 p.m. slot, doubling the next competitor with almost 9.1 million viewers. The next closest was ABC with 4.4 million viewers. The next nearest cable network was CNN with 2.3 million viewers.
Not surprisingly, all the networks had drop-offs from their 2008 numbers. NBC’s fell by 56 percent with its audience. CNN also had an over 50 percent fall from 2008. Fox News had the least amount of drop off as they were almost flat compared with the record breaking 2008 introduction of Sarah Palin.
As Nate Silver notes, this really shouldn’t be a surprise:
It remains too early to tell exactly what effect the Republican National Convention has had on the polls. But television ratings are one measure that come in almost instantaneously. Ratings for the final two nights of the Republican convention were down quite a bit from 2008, declining by about 30 percent overall.
The ratings decline should not really be a surprise. Whereas, in 2008, Senator John McCain announced his running mate, Sarah Palin, just a few days before the convention, making her a national sensation, Mitt Romney rolled out his choice of Representative Paul D. Ryan three weeks ago, perhaps limiting the buildup to Tampa, Fla.
The convention was also shortened by, and had to compete with, Hurricane Isaac. And the security in and around Tampa was airtight, limiting protests and distractions — but perhaps also the spontaneity and newsworthiness of the event.
More important, this election has simply not generated the same excitement from viewers and voters than 2008 did. It would be quite surprising to me if the Democratic convention did not also experience a significant decline in its television ratings.
As I’ve noted before, most recently just the other day, there are plenty of indications that voters are not nearly as engaged in this election as they were in 2008 and that likely explains much of the ratings drop off. Another factor, of course, is the same reason that ratings are generally down for any type of non-sports programming on television, even just four years later there are so many more other entertainment and news choices out there. Moreover, these ratings don’t necessarily include people who may have been watching on C-Span, PBS, or via the Internet. That group likely isn’t very large, but it is growing.
Like Silver, I’d expect that the ratings for the Democratic Convention will also likely be down from their 2008 numbers. Particularly on Wednesday night, when the second day of the convention will be going up against the Giants and the Cowboys in the opening game of the NFL season.