TV Ratings: Hillary Clinton’s Speech Falls to Trump’s Coronation in DNC Night 4 Final Numbers

Hillary Clinton Democratic National Convention 2
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A grand total of 27.82 million people watched coverage of the final night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention across ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. These numbers don’t include Spanish language networks like Univision or entities like C-SPAN, which aren’t measured by Nielsen.

That’s lower than the six-network haul for Republican nominee Donald Trump’s speech a week ago, which drew an audience of 30.05 million. Even if you add in ratings from PBS to both the final nights of the DNC and RNC, the DNC still comes up slightly short (31.72 million vs. 31.95 million). The big difference-maker is, unsurprisingly, the audience for Fox News. For the Trump anointing, 9.35 million people tuned in. Less than a third of that number turned on Fox News for Clinton’s crowning.

CNN once again won the DNC coverage ratings race, with 7.5 million total viewers and 2.81 million in the cable-news-coveted 25-54 demographic. MSNBC weighed in with 5.72 million total and 1.53 million in the demo. Fox News had 3.03 million total and 785,000 in the demo.

It’s no secret that convention viewership skews toward the higher age ranges, and that the audience for the RNC has an older skew than the DNC. In 2012, half the TV viewers for the final night of the DNC were 55 or older, and 15% of the viewers fell between the ages of 18 and 34. For the final night of 2016’s RNC, 60% were 55 or older; 58% in 2012. The percentages for both conventions were higher in the nights leading up to the nominees’ acceptance speeches. A mere 8.6% of the viewers for the final night of this year’s RNC fell into the 18-34 age range.

It’s possible the proliferation of streaming options ate away at the DNC’s TV viewership, luring away younger eyeballs. Or perhaps just not as many people felt they needed to watch Clinton deliver an acceptance speech as America’s first female presidential nominee for a major party.

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  1. John says:

    Trump gets bigger crowds, higher ratings, and so far a bigger bounce from his convention. He is probaboy going to win.

  2. Ben says:

    All sides tuned into to see Trump. We know Hillary will win. But it’s always great to see a train wreck like Trump. He’s hilarious.

  3. Matt says:

    More likely liberals would tune in to watch Trump then conservatives to watch Clinton, probably millions of more liberals watched both than conservatives, Trump also tweeting his supporters not to watch Hillary’s speech…

  4. lex says:

    I think the audience that was there tuned it out, too. Where was everyone?

  5. Brandon says:

    I watched every minute of the DNC. I only peaked at the RNC. On Monday night I happened to tune to when Melania was being introduced. I decided to watch. It was interesting when she came out. She does out, he reaches toward her, they clasp hands, she gives him her check with lot’s of space between them. I thought “odd. Then on Thursday when Trumps daughter introduced him, he comes out, embraces her and his hands wander down her body. I thought , “odd.” Later I realized that what I had seen was Trump and his wife have no intimacy but he wishes there were intimacy between him and his daughter. EEEWWWW!!!!

  6. David Hamburger says:

    With only a .23 million difference between the two with PBS added in, it’s safe to say that with C-SPAN (mostly watched by liberals) and Univision added in that Hillary overtook Trump. Also, Democrats tend to skew much more media savvy. So, it’s likely that she’d pick up much more of the lead if those viewers were added in.

  7. grzebra says:

    I started streaming the convention on my phone during my evening commute. When I got home and turned on the TV I lasted only five minutes before I realized that I vastly preferred the live stream without the inane chatter of the commentators. I streamed the next 4-5 hours from the DNC site as I assume that hundreds of thousands of others did as well. TV ratings no longer accurately capture what Americans care about if they ever did.

  8. goatsandmonkeys says:

    This was the most powerful convention I’ve seen in my lifetime.
    For the first time, viewers got to see how hard Hillary has worked for children and the underprivileged.
    The woman is amazing.

  9. Well I did watch the RNC on C-SPAN,tried to watch the DNC but after a few segments tuned DNC out. Watched every SciFY Sharknado Week film fest . I preferred the fake movie sharks to the parrot rhetoric spouted by the real DNC sharks,the establishment career politicians and their serfs. DNC convention was orchestrated fantasy production in lock step but out-of-touch with reality, some kind of group psychoses.

  10. Melissa Graziano-Humphrey says:

    A lot of the network ratings difference can also be attributed the younger generation (which tends to lean more Democratic) not being in the habit of watching network television, even for momentous occasions. I think the streaming options played a bigger part than this article simply states.

    • A.L. says:

      Great point! I’m sure many cord-cutters (like myself) either live streamed the DNC or watched the speeches the next day.

    • I am 48 years old and live streamed the DNC. I doubt I was counted among the viewers. I only watched the RNC filtered through late night comedians, also live streamed.

  11. Sean says:

    This is good news for the DNC. The Trumpsters did not tune in — their minds are made up and closed. Nothing their to inform or change. FOX even cut away during the most powerful talk of Mr. Khan speaking about his hero son. But the numbers then must clearly show that the moderates and independents checked in and what they saw was a powerfully different vision of America than what the dark and dreary RNC put on. So all good.

  12. LG says:

    This makes sense. Democrats were willing to watch both so that they could see him fall on his face (which he did) vs. Republicans who are so closed minded and controlled by Fox News that they wouldn’t have watched it at all even if it meant they might actually learn something or get a different and more intelligent point of view.

  13. kevin says:

    Anybody else notice Tim Kaines mascara clumping? If your going to wear make up atleast do a good job of it.

  14. Lewis Kincade says:

    Ha! She is going to kick his Putin-loving ass. Move the kids to Moscow too.

  15. spike says:

    and her white pants suit doesn’t hide her black heart

  16. spike says:

    no no no no no! you’re missing the point. she does not connect with the American people as much as Trump does.

    • Blue Silver says:

      Trump is a sideshow attraction that delivers ratings. He’s polarizing enough that viewers would tune in to see the hijinks that ensue every time he takes the podium. Donald ” Let’s make America hate again” Trump will be tweeting about his marginal ratings triumph, as he begins to slip down in the polls. Just watch!

    • The Truth says:

      No Spike, you’re missing the point. Legions of viewers who will never vote for Trump tuned in to observe his gonzo lunacy. He has the same “can’t look away” magnetism as the epic fails in episodes of “Jackass.” People wanted to see how outrageously ridiculous he would be, and he delivered amply.

      • Reader says:

        Exactly. Like staring at a car wreck by the side of a busy highway.

      • Bob says:

        The Truth speaks the Truth. Can’t wait for the debates which start on Sept. 28. Clinton is going to wipe the floor with the know-nothing Orange Fascist. And did y’all notice, three times in the past 2 months, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has cringed at what Daffy Duck Donald said and had to distance himself and the Party from him? (This time Trumpo the Clown invited an enemy country to commit espionage on us!!!) Can you imagine, God forbid, he every becomes president, how many of his gaffes sane Republicans will have to make for him? And how do you “apologize” if Donald Disaster loses his temper again, this time with nuclear codes? I left the Party of Lincoln 2 months ago when it became the Party of Looney Tunes thanks to Dickhead Donald. I am now happy to be an Independent who will probably vote for Clinton. Compared to him, she may be crooked, but she ain’t crazy. And as Rep. Senator Lynsey Graham said, “Crooked always wins over Crazy.” And Trump is both!

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