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August 28, 2008

DNC viewership drops for Bill & Joe

82577259UPDATED: Collective viewership of the Democratic National Convention dropped slightly Wednesday night as Bill Clinton and vp pick Joe Biden took the stage to rally support for nominee Barack Obama.

About 24 million viewers turned in across broadcast and cable networks for the 10 p.m. segment, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's down 7% from Tuesday, when Hillary Clinton took the stage, and up 8% from the convention's opening night.

Compared with the same night four years ago, viewership was up 34% from the previous Dem convention, continuing a trend seen across all three days of coverage so far.

A headline on Drudge Report says Republicans might play spoiler during Obama's acceptance speech tonight by announcing John McCain's vice president pick. If that's the case, tonight's news network ratings should be enormous as both candidates vie for the spotlight.

So which network won in the Nielsens?

CNN claims that, for the first time ever, they are the highest-rated network for national convention coverage. Based on the keystone 10 p.m. hour, the cable news network either edged out or tied NBC -- depending how far down away from the decimal point you care to count. CNN has 5.383 million viewers; NBC has 5.361. Among adults 18 to 49 in the hour, CNN firmly wins.

But NBC (and Fox News) are protesting the claim, pointing out that coverage on NBC and CBS went to 11:03 p.m. So if you expand out to full-night program numbers, NBC edges out CNN -- 5.464  to 5.375.

No matter how you thin-slice the math, the cable network managed to roughly match the broadcaster despite NBC dominating the first two nights of convention coverage and airing the evening’s top-rated program, “America’s Got Talent,” as a convention coverage lead-in.

So for the 10 p.m. hour: CNN – 5.383 million viewers; NBC – 5.361; ABC – 3.483; CBS – 3.462; Fox News -  2.699 (up 65%); MSNBC – 2.270 (up 63%). For full program: NBC - 5.464; CNN - 5.375; CBS - 3.535; ABC - 3.483 ; Fox News -- 2.572; MSNBC - 2.270.

Meanwhile Fox News reps point to a study that said more Democrats watch CNN, so "they're the home team on this one," and that they managed to beat the broadcasters four years ago during the Republican convention. And NBC News sent out a release claiming victory by combining the viewership of NBC and MSNBC in primetime and heralding "the networks of NBC News." (Tell you, the NBC vs. ABC entertainment executive rivalry looks like a family sitcom misunderstanding compared with the news networks' ongoing Thunderdome cage match).

Also: Here's some reviews of Clinton's speech: Gawker said it's either his "best ever or bestest ever." CNN's iReporters (read: dorks with webcams) applaud. The transcript. Barone says Bill was "a little slippery." PBS historians give "high marks."

And Biden's: U.S. News calls it "standard and uninspiring." Prospect calls it "plain-spoken genius." The transcript. Francis says Biden disappoints. Both speeches by the numbers.


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