Not unexpectedly, the cable news networks emerged as the undisputed winners at the Democratic National Convention last week in Boston, with Cable News Network besting Fox News Channel in terms of viewership.
For the four days of the convention last week, Monday through Thursday, in primetime CNN averaged 2.3 million viewers, compared with 2.1 million for Fox News and 1.3 million for MSNBC, according to Nielsen Media Research.
It was a good week for CNN, which was able to boast that it was the “most-watched” news network during the convention. On July 29, when Sen. John Kerry accepted his party's nomination, CNN racked up 2.7 million total viewers in primetime, not that much ahead of Fox News's 2.5 million. MSNBC averaged 1.6 million viewers Thursday, the closing night of the convention.
With the major broadcasters offering only pared down convention coverage, the 24-hour news channels saw huge viewership gains compared with their performance at the convention four years ago. For the four days, Fox News's viewership was up 348% compared with the Democratic convention in 2000. CNN was up 42%, while MSNBC was up 98%.
Viewership at the Big Three was way down from four years ago. Last Wednesday from 10 to 11 p.m., 12.1 million viewers were watching convention coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, versus 15 million at the same point of the 2000 Democratic convention, according to Nielsen.
In contrast, viewership at the all-news networks during that hour was nearly three times greater. CNN, Fox News and MSNBC had 5.9 million viewers from 10 to 11 p.m. last Wednesday, versus 2.3 million four years ago.