August 27, 2008 in Nation/World

Convention TV ratings beat 2004’s first night

Associated Press

NEW YORK – Television viewers showed more interest in the Democratic convention on Monday than they did for the first night of the convention that nominated John Kerry four years ago.

But the Nielsen Media Research ratings didn’t offer much good news to the broadcast kingpins.

An estimated 21.4 million viewers watched Michelle Obama’s speech about her husband during the 10 p.m. EDT hour Monday on either ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel or MSNBC, Nielsen said. Add in BET and TV One, networks covering the convention for the first time, and the viewership reached 22.3 million. No immediate estimate was available for PBS or CNBC.

The six broadcast or news networks recorded 18.4 million viewers for the first night in 2004, Nielsen said.

NBC led the way this year with 4.9 million viewers, followed by CNN’s 4.3 million. ABC had 3.8 million, CBS had 3.5 million, Fox News Channel had 2.9 million and MSNBC had 2.1 million.

It was an achievement for CNN, which had not beaten any broadcast networks in such head-to-head competition before. Four years ago, Fox News Channel beat the broadcasters each night of the Republican convention.

Two of the broadcasters – ABC and CBS – had smaller audiences for their coverage Monday than they had four years ago. The CBS decline was 23 percent, Nielsen said.

Four years ago viewers were much more likely to switch to ABC, CBS or NBC when their coverage began at 10 p.m. But this year, more of the viewers who were watching on cable networks stuck with them – an indication of the further erosion of broadcasters’ longtime advantage.

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