News

McCain Wins Nielsen Race

9/05/2008 8:00 PM Eastern

Republican Presidential nominee John McCain’s acceptance speech last Thursday night turned up about 500,000 more viewers than Barack Obama’s at the Democratic National Convention the week before.

Senator McCain of Arizona garnered 38.9 million viewers from 10 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. Sept. 4, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That’s the most ever for convention coverage, topping the 38.4 million who watched Obama’s Aug. 28 acceptance speech from Denver.

In addition to the three cable-news services and the Big Three networks, McCain’s speech from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul was covered by Spanish-language broadcasters Univision and Telemundo, whereas Obama’s address was also presented by African-American-targeted TV One and BET.

McCain’s delivery was 41% higher than the 27.6 million that watched President Bush’s acceptance speech on the final night of the RNC in 2004.

The RNC, boosted by the 37.2 million that watched GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s address last Wednesday night, averaged 34.5 million viewers over three nights from the RNC, according to Nielsen (planned common coverage on Labor Day was scrapped in the wake of Hurricane Gustav). That was 53% greater than the 22.6 million the Republicans averaged in the 10 p.m. hour back in 2004 over four nights (the six broadcast and cable news channels covered the second, third and fourth nights four years ago, while the Big Three sat out the opener).

More pointedly, the RNC eclipsed the four-day DNC average of 30.2 million viewers from Denver in that hour by 14%. Similarly, the current election cycle average prompted a 49% upturn from John Kerry’s Democratic convention in 2004, which averaged 20.4 million viewers over four nights.

Fox News set network and cable news convention records with the 9.2 million viewers it averaged on both Sept. 3 and 4.

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