August 21, 2020

Democratic National Convention Television Ratings: Nights 1-4

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Written by: Mitch Metcalf

DNC Night 4 ratings below. In the past three election cycles, the audience for the final night of the DNC went up between 4.4 million and 10.6 million viewers 2+ from the prior night across the six major news networks in the 10 pm ET hour. Last night was up a small 325K viewers from Wednesday to 21.8 million persons 2+ L+SD on ABC, CNN, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC and NBC at 10:00 pm ET.

DNC Night 3 ratings below. Up to 21.5 million persons 2+ L+SD across the six major news networks in the 10 pm hour (featuring former President Barack Obama and the VP acceptance speech by Senator Kamala Harris), now within the range of the same night the past three cycles (20.7 million to 23.7 million viewers). MSNBC again claimed first place with persons 2+, while CNN again was #1 with the adult 25-54 news demographic.

DNC Night 2 results below. 18.5 million persons 2+ in the 10-11 pm ET hour last night across the six major news networks. MSNBC was #1 with 5.4 million viewers and CNN #2 with 4.3 million. The chart yesterday for Night 1 had MSNBC’s 8-11 pm audience, and that chart has been corrected below with the 10 pm ET audience only. MSNBC also won the 10 pm hour for Night 1 with P2+.

CNN did continue to win the 25-54 target news demographic (1.3 million adults 25-54 to MSNBC’s 1.1 million in the 10 pm hour, while the broadcast networks and Fox News Channel were closer to half a million 25-54 year-olds last night at 10 pm).


CORRECTED Night 1 DNC ratings below, with MSNBC audience levels for the 10 pm ET hour, like all the other competitors.


About the Author

Mitch Metcalf
MITCH METCALF has been tracking every US film release of over 500 screens (over 2300 movies and counting) since the storied weekend of May 20, 1994, when Maverick and Beverly Hills Cop 3 inspired countless aficionados to devote their lives to the art of cinema. Prior to that, he studied Politics and Economics at Princeton in order to prepare for his dream of working in television. He has been Head of West Coast Research at ABC, then moved to NBC in 2000 and became Head of Scheduling for 11 years.


  1. 69 Road Runner

    Snoozefest 2020 🙂

  2. ryan

    wonder how much that A25-54 is gonna crater with the RNC

    • Destiny

      Republican events are very popular among the 60 to 70 age group if Fox News is anything to go by. Would expect such coverage to skew ancient.

      • Bruce

        What events do Republicans have but democrats don’t…conventions, rallies, speeches? Do left-leaning networks normally broadcast Republican events? CNN and MSNBC refuse to air Trump Rallies because they claim it’s “divisive;” however, if the rallies are divisive, why not broadcast ’em to prove his divisiveness? If someone is behaving maliciously, I’d want to prove the maliciousness…not hide it. I’d rather a network skew “ancient” than censorious.

        • Destiny

          Fair point. Presenting both sides of an argument allows for a healthy debate on an issue.

          • Ironbob

            Until one side censors the crap out of the other on the internet because they can’t win any other way.

          • rrdowz

            Arguments? Do you even consider what Trump makes as arguments? They are senseless rants, conspiracies, and lies which only fox-washed republics believe in. Shame on you for supporting a deranged demagogue and making this once great country, the laughing stock of the world. You will be shown your place on Nov 4th

        • gary harms

          Probably the same reason reason we don’t televise autopsies…too gruesome….brutal, and our degree of civilized behavior needs to start somewhere, not televising Trump at all would be a good start.

          • Jon Sullivan

            “Civilized behavior”….kind of like what is happening in Portland & Chicago in the name of BLM & “social justice” that the DNC ignored, as have CNN & MSNBC. Ignored as if they never happened…just as they have ignored black on black crime in the inner cities for years (as well as FBI crime stats on police shootings of black males that are at historic lows). Just blame Trump, yell “racist”, milk the George Floyd death for all they can…rinse, repeat and assume Americans are too stupid to see what is really going on. Eventually, the Antifa/BLM mob will come to Gary Harms’ house.

          • alan stern

            Televising Democrat Malitia rioting is fine with you. Burn, loot, murder.

        • John

          It’s the networks all giving Trump billions of dollars worth of FREE time the other candidates didn’t get that put him in the White House. Why would they want to give free time to another carnival barking show. It’s never anything but a slam fest about people who are not even running for President like Obama or Hillary. Trump doesn’t need any promotion. We have had 3.5 years to see the devastation. It’s depressing to see this dog and pony show all over again.

          • Michele

            I am not going to watch the GOP because you are right on the money with his dog and pony show. I can’t wrap my head around why people vote for this idiot. Make America Great Again? He has ruined our country and now need to go away!

          • Trumpsurpresident

            Record unemployment.. The highest employment rate for minorities and women.. Stock markets breaking records daily.. The highest the stock market has ever been.. Granted the “first step act” to be a bill to help (mostly) minority groups out of prison and into the work place. Gave HBC’s their funding and guaranteed it for 10 years.. I could keep going. The facts speak louder than YOUR words EVER could😊. Nice try at race-baiting everyone tho

      • alan stern

        Marxism is popular with you. No bail, hate the cops, only BLM, open borders, defund ICE. Etc. Most Americans don’t want that. Plus Joe is SENILE.

        • gary harms

          Said the Trumper whose choice makes up words of his own, can’t pronounce most others correctly, has trouble negotiating slight grades and drinking water with one hand, credited his daughter with creating 15 million jobs when his own administration created less than 7 million, loves cops so much he created his own anonymous Gestapo so they couldn’t be accountable for their illegal actions against their fellow citizens, makes up little phrases for his morons to embrace like “open borders” and uses “law & order” when his administration and campaign to steal a presidency broke so many laws that when he gets to prison himself he’ll be able to more work than he ever did in the White House since most of staff and advisors are already there.

          • Sandalwood

            At least Trump is talking. He’s not siding his basement letting everyone else run his campaign for him. His wife has been everywhere saying Joe can’t campaign because of the virus. Is she immune?

          • alan stern

            His administration stole a presidency. Really. Before he was elected he didn’t have an administration. Stop watching fake news CNN and MSLSD.

          • Marlyn

            Wow! That’s all you have? Now what about Biden the racist who helped pass laws that hurt the black population? Biden the racist who didn’t want black students integrated into schools because he said they would turn into Racial Jungles? Biden who started a relationship with Jill while she was married and lied by saying they met on a blind date? Biden who puts his hands on children and women? Biden who had 47 years to do great things, but only filled his and his families pockets. Yeah, for someone like you he’s your perfect candidate.

        • nathan wolfson

          Most Americans are lucky if they have a high school education.

      • Trumpsurpresident

        The RNC has raked in 6 times as many as the freaks that want to defund our country.. And give it to China.. Do you remember when Trumps odds were at just 7% and Hillary’s was at 93%.. Ahahaha.. Trump is Your President!!

    • Josef benNachman

      The only people who watched were the same people who Always watch CNN or MSNBC
      So what else is new?

  3. Bruce

    Ooof…broadcast networks dropped like a rock.

  4. Destiny

    Overall a good night for CNN, would expect a lot more to come the closer we get to voting day. I know a lot of Democrat voters are counting down those days like its Christmas.

    • 69 Road Runner

      I think they’d better be fully prepared for the possibility that Santa isn’t gonna bring them what they want 🙂

      • Destiny

        I’d say the odds are 50/50 on either candidate winning. Poor as they are. I can’t be the only one who thinks both Biden & Trump are equally poor right?

        • Bruce

          I don’t think swampers have historically done well (Ford, Dole, Gore and McCain). H.W. was a swamper but he had a breadth of experience through his swampiness (VP, CIA, China Liaison, RNC, UN and congress for 4 years). Obama’s 7 years, 9 months and 27 days hardly qualified as a swamper and because he was young, ambitious and motivated, he didn’t delegate anything to Biden. Kennedy must have been our last swamper.

          I don’t think it’s 50/50 because Trump has done some good thing. The dems and the media have created all the divisiveness and racial tension. It’ll be interesting but…yes…poor pairing.

          • Destiny

            Trump has a lot going against him, what with Hollywood being largely pro Democrat and using their platform to encourage fans to vote at the elections. That and many on the Democrat side dislike Trump enough that they may turn out onmass to unseat him.

            On the other hand I see little to no reason why those who voted Trump in the 2016 election won’t do so again.

            So it basically comes down to who can draw the largest support in November in the polls.

          • Marcel E Carroll

            Bruce, you state the dems and media have created all the racial tension. Do you not agree that Trump is Pres now because he stoked racial tensions that have long existed under the surface? I see Trump as the great divider. BLM arose separately after too many black incidents of police abuse. Do you not agree?

          • Shawn

            @marcel. I disagree but can see why you might think such things. Trump has been at times too often sloppy with his language and has allowed himself to be a target of those looking to accuse him of such stoking racial divisions. He is not a skilled politician, obviously, but that’s in large part why he was elected. But, first, BLM arose under Obama, not Trump. Second, no one can fairly accuse Trump of being divisive any more than they must admit the democrats of doing the same. Every policy and statement that is made that you don’t agree with is divisive by nature. Trump is accused of being divisive only because the media listened to him disagrees so vehemently. For those that agree, he is very unifying.

        • nate wolfson

          I hope you are!

  5. Dennis Omick

    What does “persons 2+” mean ?

  6. Bruce

    @ Destiny

    Hollywood also tried to encourage voters for Hillary and Stacey Abrams. Hollywood also megaphoned Russian collusion. Hollywood also created Jussie Smollett and Harvey Weinstein. Hollywood was also the moment when Biden said 10-15% of the US population are bad people. That’s 49.6 million citizens.

    Of all people, if Leo Terrell is now supporting Trump, there’ll be lots of democrats supporting Trump. (Shhh!)

    • Ironbob

      I have to say, Leo Terrell savaged Donald Trump on Fox News up until the George Floyd incident. Leo was as staunch a Democrat as one could ever find. Now he is ALL IN for Trump which I found absolutely shocking. I thought I had entered an alternate universe when he blurted out that he would be voting for Donald Trump. I mean, come on. If you lose his vote, you’re in big doo-doo.

  7. The DNC still in support of BLM , Antifa and Illegal Immigration ! Even Trump looks good in comparison !

  8. Marc

    Lets see the ratings after the REPUBLICAN convention i qill bet it is much higher just look how Fox News dominates cable

    • David Multzer

      Yes, comparing DNC to RNC in 2020 is apples to apples.The previous years are oranges because of how TV ratings drop every year and people don’t watch during COVID.

  9. Ryan

    The 2012 numbers for night 1 and night 2 are the same ?

    • Mitch Metcalf

      2012 DNC was actually a three-day event from Tue Sep 4 through Thu Sep 6 instead of the normal four-day schedule. Night 1 in 2012 is actually a Tuesday but compared to other opening Monday nights in the chart. Night 2 is actually just a repeat of the data as a placeholder to compare to the other Tuesdays. Night 3 is really the second night of 2012, but like all the other years the second to last night on Wednesday. Night 4 is really the third night in 2012, but like all the other years the last night on Thursday.

  10. Wizbang

    A whole 7% of the nation watched Biden speak! Half of those were folks waiting to see him stumble over his tongue. Whatever drugs they gave him worked while he read off a teleprompter. All he offered were euphoric phrases but no details. Biden did not explain why it is only after 47 years in DC that he is not ready to fix things.

    • Nathan Wolfson

      People watch the conventions mostly for the hoopla, which there was none of this year. Most people already know the candidates and their platform–a convention is likely to change only about 5% of minds.

  11. Bruce

    Compared to the 2016 Convention, MSNBC was the only network to increase its viewership. I totaled the four nights of each network and compared to the same 4-night totals of 2016. It’s peculiar how Fox News dropped the LEAST. The totals are in the thousands.

    ABC – 4,991 (- 33%)
    CBS – 4,631 (- 37%)
    NBC – 8,970 (- 49%)
    CNN – 5,583 (- 21%)
    FNC – 2,354 (- 20%)
    MSNBC + 4,530 (+ 24%)
    6-Net – 21,999 (- 21%)

    Thanks for the data, Mitch.

  12. David

    I wonder, of that viewership number, how many of them were there just to see if he was coherent or not. Sorta like people who go to car races just to catch any wrecks… He did much better than I expected but used a lot of clichés strung together to make statements, and his voice sounded slurred, like he was medicated heavily. Plus he never said what he was GOING to do except stand for the light instead of the darkness, which I found to be condescending and deceptive. Since when has he stood in the light?

    • Wanette

      I watched just that particular section to see if he made sense. I am one. He fumbled a little, but not as bad as normal. I honestly feel like it was pre-recorded so they could edit it. It was not at all what we’ve witnessed repeatedly over and over. It was ‘too good’ if that makes sense, when you think of what we’ve been witnessing and how ironic his ‘good’ moment happened at exactly that hour. It was pre-recorded as many times as it took to get it right, just like some of the other segments were clearly pre-recorded.

      • jf

        Uh, there were a bunch of reporters, including from Fox, in the room. But you can ‘honestly believe’ whatever you want

  13. Truth

    Joe has an exceptional ability to screw things up.(Obama) I hope we can survive another 4 years under President Trump.

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