*NIELSEN UPDATE, 6:05 p.m. ET:
An estimated 19.22 million people tuned in to watch the second night of the 2020 DNC. Day two of the convention was carried live from Milwaukee, Wisc., and remotely from many venues throughout the country across 10 networks.
While coverage varied by network, all 10 aired live coverage from approximately 10:00 p.m. ET to 11:15 p.m. ET.
2020 Networks Included: Day 2 – ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS (and its member stations), CNN, CNNe, Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC and Newsy. Out of the 19.2 million, coverage from ad-supported networks was 18.3 million total viewers.
For the second consecutive night, MSNBC was the most-watched network for Democratic National Convention coverage, while CNN attracted the most Adults 25-54, according to preliminary data from Nielsen.
The second night of the 2020 DNC featured a well-produced virtual roll call and high-profile speakers like former president Bill Clinton, former secretaries of state from both sides of the aisle (John Kerry and Colin Powell) expressing their support for Biden and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nominating Sen. Bernie Sanders (and later expressing her support for Joe Biden).
The night was headlined by former second lady Jill Biden, who gave heartfelt remarks on behalf of her husband from a Delaware high school where she used to teach.
Dr. Biden gave remarks minutes after the formal nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate for president of the United States.
What did the ratings look like for the second night of this virtual convention compared with the first?
Last night, a total of 18.24 million total TV viewers across six networks tuned into the 10-11:15 p.m. ET broadcast. That’s down 2% from opening night.
As expected, the numbers were slightly down, though nothing severe, and there will be a viewership bump when final live-plus-same-day data from Nielsen rolls in this evening.
The opening night, Monday, Aug. 17, headlined by former first lady Michelle Obama, averaged a total of 18.68 million total viewers across six Nielsen-measured English-broadcast and cable networks: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, ABC and CBS. This total did not include streaming viewership figures, non-Nielsen-measured networks (like C-SPAN) or the Spanish-language broadcasters.
When additional Nielsen data trickles in later in the evening, the total TV viewership figure grew to 19.7 million across 10 Nielsen-measured networks.
The preliminary 18.24 million average total viewer mark for Night 2 of 2020 represents a 25% decline versus Night 2 of the 2016 DNC , which averaged a total of 24.30 million total viewers watching across across six Nielsen-measured networks.
An average total of 4.39 million Adults 25-54 watched last night. That’s a 6.5% drop from the 4.69 million Adults 25-54 who watched across six Nielsen-measured English-language networks on Monday night.
That’s also a 44% drop from the 25-54 audience on Night 2 of the 2016 DNC (7.77 million).
The ratings drop-off from Night 1 isn’t particularly surprising. It’s tough to put on a truly compelling convention when everything is virtual, as opposed to an energetic event originating live from an arena. Interest, and consequently ratings, were always going to be lower than usual. In fact, it wouldn’t be a shock to see 2020 RNC ratings down from 2016 RNC ratings, though this year’s RNC will likely grab a larger TV audience than the DNC.
Looking at this from a network-by-network performance, MSNBC and CNN split honors on Night 1 and again on Night 2.
MSNBC was the most-watched network in the common coverage period, averaging 5.24 million viewers from 10-11:15 p.m.
CNN was No. 1 among Adults 25-54 in the common coverage period, averaging 1.5 million viewers from 10-11:15 p.m.
ABC was the most-watched broadcast network for Night 1 of the convention, while NBC was No. 1 among Adults 25-54.
However, NBC was No. 1 among the broadcast networks across the board on the second night of the event.
For the second consecutive night, Fox News averaged a larger total audience than CBS, but CBS averaged more Adults 25-54.
We can put a positive spin on this for CBS: It delivered the most night-to-night viewership growth of any of the six networks: up 4% in Total Viewers versus Night 1 and up 13% among Adults 25-54 versus Night 1.
How did last night’s ratings compare with ratings for 2020 DNC Night 1?
- Aug. 18, 2020: (Night 2) 10-11:15 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / Night-to-Night % Change / A25-54 Demo/ Night-to-Night % Change
MSNBC: 5,236,000/ +3% /1,024,000/ +1.6%
CNN: 4,226,000/ -11.5%/1,274,000/ -14.8%
NBC: 2,323,000 / +2%/592,000 / -12%
ABC: 2,246,000 / -8%/584,000 / -10%
Fox News: 2,140,000/ +2% / 430,000 / -2%
CBS: 2,069,000/ +4% / 482,000 / +13%
How did the networks stack up in Night 2 of 2020 versus the second night of the 2016 DNC (Aug. 20, 2016)?
- MSNBC was +37% in Total Viewers, but -12% in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
- CNN was -29% in Total Viewers and -38% in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
- NBC was -56% in Total Viewers and -69% in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
- ABC was -35% in Total Viewers and -47% in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
- Fox News was -25% in Total Viewers and -32% in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
- CBS was -25% in Total Viewers and -46%in Adults 25-54 viewers versus Night 2 of 2016.
Last, but not least, the virtual roll call that has everyone talking.