Cable Gains On Broadcast Rivals During DNC's First Night


When it came to viewing Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention, cable almost doubled its audience base, while the Big 3 broadcast networks lost almost 10% from the same period four years ago.

Led by 4.27 million viewers from CNN, which trailed only NBC, cable’s primary news networks averaged 9.28 million watchers during 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., when Michelle Obama delivered her speech. That compared with 5 million collective viewers on average during that hour from the first night of the 2004 DNC, according to Nielsen Media Research data. Collectively, the Big 3, which only covered the Obama speech on Aug. 25, saw their audience decline 9.6% to 12.2 million from 13.5 million.  

Some 2.92 million viewers watched Mrs. Obama on Fox News Channel, while MSNBC averaged 2.09 million. CNN scored a 68% advance from the 2.55 million in 2004, while Fox News (up 102% from 1.44 million) and MSNBC (ahead 107% from 1.01 million) both doubled their performance from that period during the 2004 DNC.

According to Nielsen, more than 17.1 million households (a collective 15.1 national rating) tuned in CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Big 3 broadcast networks, or TV One and BET, during the 10 p.m. hour Monday.

Among adults 25 to 54, CNN also finished second among all news competitors in the 10 p.m. hour, averaging 1.57 million of those watchers. That trailed the 2.02 million for NBC with the key news demo, but edged ABC’s 1.54 million. CBS was next with 1.48 million of those watchers, followed by 894,000 for MSNBC and 862,000 for Fox News.

During primetime, CNN averaged 3.7 million viewers, an 85% surge from just over 2 million on the first night of the DNC in 2004. Fox News grew 84% to 3.02 million from 1.64 million, as MSNBC rose 88% to 2.15 million from 1.14 million. In the target demo, CNN scored a 127% jump to 1.37 million from 601,000. MSNBC climbed 122% to 847,000 from 382,000, finishing ahead of Fox, which posted a 42% gain to 776,000 from 546,000 from the same night four years ago.

From 7 p.m. to midnight (ET), CNN officials said the network’s live coverage from Denver was watched by nearly 3 million viewers and 1.1 million adults 25 to 54. Fox News was the choice for 2.6 million total viewers and 670,000 in the demo, while MSNBC had 1.9 million total watchers and 736,000 of the news set on average.