The first night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention was a tricky balancing act for the party, but was a little clearer-cut for the broadcast networks that began coverage of the event at 10 p.m. ABC and NBC tied the hour with a 1.0 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, but ABC won the total viewer competition with 4.17 million; NBC drew 3.78 million total. CBS lagged with a 0.5 demo rating and 2.59 million total viewers.
Some more caveats than usual this go-round: These preliminary numbers only take into account viewing done until 11 p.m. Bernie Sanders’ much-anticipated speech endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton plowed through the primetime barrier and didn’t end until nearly 11:30 on the East Coast. Since Sanders’ speech was highly anticipated, though, and followed a burst of social media activity surrounding Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren’s speeches, and given that people may have tuned in to their local news and simply stayed with Sanders’ speech, there could be an upward adjustment once the final numbers come in later this afternoon.
That said, the preliminary broadcast ratings for night one of the DNC are a little higher than those of the RNC: The DNC clocked in with 10.54 million total viewers and a 2.5 demo rating. The RNC weighed in with 10.1 million total and a 2.3 demo rating. Cable ratings released later this afternoon will give a fuller picture.
For comparison’s sake, the first night of the 2012 DNC drew about 600,000 more total viewers in early broadcast ratings (11.14 million), and a 2.6 in the demo.
Supporters of now-former presidential candidate Sanders interrupted several of the big speakers last night, including New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Massachusetts Senator Warren — but not Obama — and much of the night was spent building towards a call for unity from Sanders as analysts wondered what could quell the booing delegates.
Prior to 10 p.m., ABC had a new two-hour installment of “The Bachelorette” that garnered a 1.9 demo rating and 6.65 million viewers. NBC aired a new “American Ninja Warrior” that weighed in with a 1.6 and 5.79 million. Fox’s two-hour “So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation” drew a 0.7 and 2.62 million. CBS and The CW were in repeats from 8 to 10 p.m.