Obama Ad Seen By 33.5 Million Viewers

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Sen. Barack Obama’s unprecedented 30-minute advertising buy on seven broadcast and cable networks attracted more than 33.5 million viewers Wednesday night, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The infomercial, which aired on CBS, Fox, NBC, Univision, BET, MSNBC and TV One, garnered a combined household rating of 20.6 and found its way into more than 23.7 million households less than one week away from Election Day.

Among the cable networks, the ad drew its largest audience on MSNBC (2.1 rating, 3.54 viewers). 

While the Obama campaign has not confirmed exactly how much the advertising spree cost, the Campaign Media Analysis Group pegged the multi-network buy at between $4 million and $6 million.

Shortly after the ad aired, Sen. John McCain’s staff put out a statement saying: “As anyone who has bought anything from an infomercial knows, the sales job is always better than the product. Buyer beware.”

More people, some 9.78 million, watched the Democratic presidential nominee’s infomercial on NBC. CBS was second with 8.6 million watchers, ahead of 7.14 million for Fox. MSNBC was next with 3.54 million, compared with 3.47 million for Univision, whose total included 3.1 million Hispanics.

BET and TV One counted 714,000 and 307,000 total viewers, respectively. African Americans accounted for 398,000 and 160,000 of the watchers on the ethnic-targeted services.

A comparison of sorts shows that Independent party candidate Ross Perot attracted 22.7 million viewers for an infomercial that ran on Nov. 4, 1996. That paid programming aired only on ABC, CBS and NBC and was of different durations and staggered start times within the 8 p.m. hour that night, according to Nielsen.

The measurement company said that Perot aired 15 infomercials during his 1996 White House run.