26 million total tune in for Clinton's speech

The Democratic National Convention picked up some ratings steam on Tuesday night thanks to a highly anticipated speech by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Night two of the confab averaged 26 million total viewers in primetime across broadcast and cable, a notable bump over the 22.3 million that tuned in for Monday’s kickoff showcase, according to Nielsen estimates.

CNN, in particular, notched another big showing, averaging 4.8 million viewers. That put the cabler in second place overall during the 10 p.m. hour (the only segment covered by the broadcast nets), which was capped by the avidly awaited Clinton speech.

NBC prevailed overall with an average of 5.98 million viewers, while ABC followed CNN to place a close third (4.76 million). CBS (3.82 million) was fourth, followed by Fox News (3.48 million) and MSNBC (2.57 million).

Presumably due to Barack Obama’s assured presidential nomination, African-Americans continue to take in the political spectacle in higher proportions than the rest of the population, with 12.7% tuning in compared with 9.0% for the U.S. population as a whole.

The Tuesday audience was also up bigtime vs. the same night for the Democratic Convention in 2004 — but that’s because ABC, NBC and CBS opted not to carry any convention coverage on the night four years ago.

This year, with the broadcasters back in the game, nearly five times as many viewers (26.0 million) were in front of their sets Tuesday night compared with day two of the convention in 2004 (5.9 million).

ABC’s numbers were likely hampered by a weak lead-in aud from its tepid gameshow “Wanna Bet,” which garnered only 3.4 million viewers. The Eye’s “Big Brother 10″ scored with 5.98 million, and the Peacock’s hot competish skein “America’s Got Talent” garnered 12.2 million in the 9 o’clock hour. On the other hand, that stat makes ABC alone among the nets in seeing its 10 o’clock hour improve over its lead-in.

More impressive, viewership at 10 p.m. (which included Sen. Clinton’s speech) showed big increases on all three cable news nets compared to the second night of the 2004 Dem confab, with Fox bettering its numbers by 89% to CNN’s 64% and MSNBC’s 39% — even though they alone (with PBS) covered the night four years ago.

Fox News was also the only cabler to increase its overall primetime take over Monday night, besting it by 10%, while CNN and MSNBC saw an 8% and 7% dropoff, respectively.

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