Hillary Clinton formally accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party for President of the United States on the fourth and final night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. CNN once again won the ratings race, outperforming all the cable and broadcast news channels in both total viewers and adults 25-54. Chelsea Clinton and Hillary Clinton spoke during the 10 p.m. ET hour.
CNN had a substantial advantage over its cable and broadcast competitors in total viewers: +42 percent over MSNBC, +66 percent over NBC, +95 percent over ABC, +105 percent over CBS and +148 percent over Fox News. The network also put up strong numbers in prime time, delivering the most-watched DNC day performance on record (back to 1996) in cable news among total viewers. Additionally, CNN finished July as the No. 1 cable news network of the month in the key A25-54 demographic.
But perhaps the most noteworthy takeaway from last night’s ratings is that Donald Trump may have gotten his wish. The final night of the 2016 DNC delivered a combined 27.82 million total viewers across six networks (CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC). The final night of the 2016 RNC delivered a combined 30.04 million total viewers across those same 6 networks. That’s a 7 percent difference. The final night of the RNC also edged the final night of the DNC in the key news demo: 9.72 million A25-54 viewers compared to 9.49 million A25-54 viewers, or a difference of 2 percent.
Top-ranked CNN was up 22 percent in total viewers and up 30 percent in the demo versus night 3, as well as up 37 percent in total viewers and 48 percent up in the news demo compared to the final night of the 2016 RNC.
MSNBC finished No. 2 in total viewers last night, and No. 3 in the news demo. “The Place for Politics” was up 7 percent in total viewers and up 8 percent in the news demo compared to night 3, and of course was up significantly in all key categories compared to the final night of the RNC.
Each of the six networks were up night-to-night both in total viewers and in the key news demo, but CNN and MSNBC were the only two networks that delivered more total viewers on night 4 of the DNC than on night 4 of the RNC.
NBC was down 1.5 percent in total viewers and down 4 percent in the news demo compared to night 4 of the RNC. ABC was down less than 1 percent in total viewers but down 4 percent in the demo versus night 4 of the RNC. CBS was down 4 percent in total viewers, but actually up 7 percent in the news demo compared to night 4 of the RNC. And Fox News, of course, was significantly down last night from night 4 of the RNC, both in total viewers (-68 percent), and in the news demo (-68 percent).
If one compares night 4 of the 2016 DNC with night 4 of the 2008 DNC, CNN was up .5 percent in total viewers, but down a whopping 15 percent in the news demo. MSNBC was up 52 percent in total viewers but down .5 percent in the news demo, and Fox News was down 7 percent in total viewers and down 34 percent in the news demo. If one combines the three networks, cable news coverage of the 2016 DNC was up 10.5 percent in total viewers versus 2008 cable news coverage, but the trend is much different if we go by A25-54: -15.4 percent.
This significant decline in A25-54 viewership could be a product of the general growing median age of the TV news viewer over the past 8 years, as well as the increase in digital consumption of news. Or perhaps it’s the candidate. Obama has attracted a younger audience than Clinton in general, and that may have translated to lower linear TV ratings for “nomination night.”
Here’s the night 4 breakdown:
- July 28: 10 – 11:40 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo
CNN: 7,505,000 / 2,812,000
MSNBC: 5,272,000 / 1,527,000
NBC: 4,516,000 / 1,698,000
ABC: 3,846,000 / 1,373,000
CBS: 3,653,000 / 1,293,000
Fox News: 3,031,000 / 785,000
- July 28: 8- 11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo
CNN: 5,693,000 / 1,955,000
MSNBC: 4,239,000 / 1,157,000
Fox News: 3,134,000 / 656,000