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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.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Dean says:

    I think another factor is the major networks’ decisions to not cover the first night’s of the convention. Had there been the build-up to the final night, it is highly likely the numbers for the final night would be have been stronger.

    Also, to put the 25 million viewers in context, it outdrew the NCAA men’s basketball championship which drew 20.9 million viewers.

    http://www.sportsmediawatch.com/2012/04/final-four-after-low-overnight-kentuckykansas-finishes-with-solid-tv-audience/

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  2. al-Ameda says:

    “Honey Boo Boo” ratings beat out the ratings of the Republican National Convention. TLC’s hit show, “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” raked in nearly 3 million views according to The Hollywood Reporter when it was up against the RNC on August 29—the night that Paul Ryan gave his speech.

    Link: http://www.examiner.com/article/honey-boo-boo-ratings-beat-rnc-ratings

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I can’t watch these people. Its as simple as that for me. Mr. Romney makes my flesh creep. He drips insincerity. He oozes phony. And since he and his running mate, the fanatic Randian, are incapable of saying a single true thing, why force myself to spend time in the uncanny valley with them?

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  4. mattb says:

    @al-Ameda:
    There’s some slight of hand going on in the “honey boo boo beats RNC” story. The TLC show beat all of the individual broadcasts of the Convention.

    However, if you tally all the people watching the convention across the multiple channels covering it, the RNC handily beat Honey Boo Boo.

    what the Hollywood Reporter actually reported is that if you compare a specific demographic of people watching Honey Boo Boo to the same demographic watching individual networks’ RNC programming, Honey Boo Boo got more viewers. But the RNC is covered by tons of network and cable news channels, and cumulatively, they still got 20 million viewers during the RNC — roughly seven times HBB’s 3 million.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/amyodell/its-not-true-that-more-people-watched-honey-boo-b

    BTW, using the Hollywood reporter’s same measure, Honey Boo Boo will most likely easily beat whom ever is speaking at the DNC next Wednesday night.

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  5. Nikki says:

    @Dean:

    Also, to put the 25 million viewers in context, it outdrew the NCAA men’s basketball championship which drew 20.9 million viewers.

    Question: How did the basketball championship do in the 18 – 49 y.o. demo? How did the RNC do in the same demo?

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  6. James in LA says:

    @michael reynolds: The six-year video record of Mitt Romney taking every known policy position remains pristine and will greet those “not paying attention,” which are far fewer that we are led to believe. The more he is watched, the creepier he gets, a ghastly Heisenbergian horror.

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  7. al-Ameda says:

    @mattb:

    There’s some slight of hand going on in the “honey boo boo beats RNC” story. The TLC show beat all of the individual broadcasts of the Convention.
    However, if you tally all the people watching the convention across the multiple channels covering it, the RNC handily beat Honey Boo Boo.

    Thanks Matt. I checked further too. Still, I loved the story because of the name “Honey Boo Boo,” and for the idea that Paul Ryan lost to Honey Boo Boo.

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  8. anjin-san says:

    Nate Silver’s trend mapping over the last week contains very, very bad news for the GOP…

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