Event tops Olympics, Oscars, 'Idol' finale

Yes, he can, apparently: Barack Obama’s acceptance speech, delivered before a crowd of nearly 80,000 at Denver’s Invesco Field on Thursday, delivered a blockbuster 38.4 million total viewers in the showcase 10 p.m. hour, according to Nielsen estimates.

The Illinois senator’s 38-minute valedictory to the Democratic National Convention and opening salvo of the presidential campaign proper not only topped John Kerry’s 2004 equivalent by 14 million viewers, it bested the Opening Ceremony at the Beijing Olympics (34.2 million), February’s Oscar broadcast (31.6 million) and May’s “American Idol” finale (31.7 million).

CNN was again the numbers champ, culminating its DNC ratings climb with a whopping 8.1 million total viewers and winning the night against all competition, cable or broadcast.

Leading the broadcast networks (which again covered only the 10 p.m. hour) was ABC, with 6.58 million total viewers, followed by NBC (6.1 million) and CBS (4.72 million). Only the Eye dropped viewers from its lead-in, a “CSI” rerun notching 5.46 million viewers, while the Alphabet showed big growth out of a “Grey’s Anatomy” repeat (4.05) and the Peacock doubled up on a preseason NFL contest (3.02).

All of the cable news nets had their biggest nights of the four-night confab. Fox News notched a healthy 4.22 million viewers, up 57% from night three of the convention. Nipping at its heels was MSNBC with 4.09 million, up 80% from Wednesday night’s coverage. The NBC Universal cabler may well have benefited from press reports about friction among its on-air personalities. Finally, PBS drew an estimated 3.5 million viewers, 18% better than Wednesday.

CNN has moved on with the rest of the media to the Twin Cities, with CNN prexy Jonathan Klein pledging, “Our coverage of the Republican convention will be just as good, and we’ll see what the numbers will be.”

More than likely, though, right-leaning Fox will take a bite out of CNN’s numbers at the GOP get-together.

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