Minutes Matter: CNN, NBC Claim Third Night DNC Triumph

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A difference of three minutes meant all the difference in which network could claim Nielsen victory with their coverage of Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden Wednesday night.

CNN took the top spot in the 10 p.m. with its coverage from the Democratic National Convention Aug. 27 with an average of 5.38 million viewers, edging ahead of NBC’s 5.36 million, according to Nielsen Media Research data. That made CNN, the only one of the six broadcast and cable news network to gain ground from the Tuesday night convention action that featured a speech from Sen. Hillary Clinton.

ABC was third Wednesday averaging 3.48 million viewers, while CBS had 3.46 million. Fox News Channel posted 2.69 million, and MSNBC had 2.27 million.

However, Biden’s speech concluded at 11:03 p.m. (ET) and when that extra time was factored in NBC averaged 5.46 million to edge CNN (cable breaks out numbers in 15-minute splits). Similarly, the extra time lifted CBS’s average to 3.53 million, ahead of ABC, which signed off at 11 p.m.

During Sen. Hillary Clinton’s speech from 10 p.m. to 11:15 p.m. on Aug. 26 NBC averaged 5.98 million viewers, CNN 4.86 million, ABC 4.76 million, CBS 3.82 million, Fox News 3.55 million and MSNBC 2.66 million.

Among the 25-to-54 demo Wednesday, NBC was tops with in the 10 p.m. hour with 2.45 million of those viewers, beating CNN's 2.32 million. CBS was third with 1.49 million news demo watchers, versus 1.30 million for ABC, 1.02 million for MSNBC and 689,000 for Fox News.

During primetime, CNN notched 4.2 million viewers, a 95% jump from 2.17 million on the comparable night during the 2004 DNC. In the daypart, MSNBC pulled in 2.1 million, up 96% from 1.07 million at the convention that saw John Kerry become the Democratic Presidential nominee.

Fox News Channel -- which next week in St. Paul, Minn. will look to repeat its 2004 Republican National Convention performance when it topped all of the networks, broadcasters included, in the 10 p.m. hour on each night of the event -- posted 2.9 million watchers, a 61% improvement from 1.77 million on the third night of the DNC four years ago.

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