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Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Roughly 17 million people watched the first night of the Republican National Convention on television during the primary speech hours between 10 p.m.-11 p.m. EST Monday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Why it matters: That's down more than 26% from the number of TV viewers for the first night of the 2016 RNC. It's also 13% lower than the number of TV viewers who watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention last week.

The ratings drop at both the DNC and RNC is likely attributable to the fact that both conventions were mostly pre-taped, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and fewer people watch live television now.

  • About 15% fewer Americans subscribe to pay-TV now than in 2016.
  • More Americans rely on digital streaming platforms and social media to get their news and entertainment today than ever before.

By the numbers: Fox News beat all other cable and broadcast networks when it came to total viewership Monday night, with over 7 million viewers.

  • That's more than the 5.1 million total audience members than MSNBC saw on the first night of the DNC.
  • Fox News led all three cable networks in viewership among adults ages 25–54 — a lucrative advertising demographic — followed by CNN and then MSNBC.
  • CNN brought in the second-highest number of total viewers with roughly 2 million, followed by ABC, MSNBC, NBC and CBS.

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

What's next: Fox News, a conservative-leaning cable news network, is expected to lead in total views for all four nights of the RNC, just as MSNBC, a liberal-leaning cable news network, took the top spot for total views for the entirety of the DNC.

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