Aug 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Democratic convention viewership drops for Night 1 compared to 2016

Photo: Handout/DNCC via Getty Images

Roughly 18.7 million people watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention on television from the primary speech hours of 10:00 p.m. through 11:15pm EST on Monday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: That's down more than 28% from the number of TV viewers for the first night of the 2016 DNC. The virtual nature of this year's event likely pushed some viewers away. The ratings drop could also reflect the migration of traditional television viewers to digital streaming platforms and social media over the past four years.

By the numbers: MSNBC beat out all other cable and broadcast networks when it came to total viewership Monday night, with 5.1 million total television viewers.

  • CNN took a close second with 4.839 million total viewers, followed by NBC with 2.282 million total viewers, and ABC with 2.442 million total viewers.
  • Fox News, which typically leads in prime-time hours among cable networks, had 2.132 million total viewers, coming in third of the three major cable networks.
  • CBS had 1.985 million total viewers.
  • CNN led the three cable networks in viewership among adults ages 25–54 — a lucrative advertising demographic — followed by MSNBC and then Fox News.

Be smart: Broadcast viewership is what really fell over the past four years. While overall viewership was down 28%, the broadcast network audience was down 50%.

Be smart: These figures don't take into account the millions of people who likely watched the convention online and via streaming television.

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