Cruz Snub in Prime Time Boosts Cable News Ratings

By A.J. Katz Comment

While it was truly a bizarre third night of the 2016 Republican National Convention, a familiar duo held steady as leaders of the convention ratings race: Fox News and NBC. Fox News won night 3 in total prime time viewers and total 10 p.m. ET viewers. NBC won the key A25-54 demo during the 10 p.m. ET hour, when Eric Trump and Gov. Mike Pence spoke.

Wednesday was Fox News’ most-watched night of the convention. The Sen. Ted Cruz snub of Trump provided a lot of drama to what had been a relatively tame night up to that point, and the drama apparently translated into a surge in viewership. FNC’s 8 – 11 p.m. block was up 20 percent in total viewers and up 31 percent in the news demo compared to its Tuesday prime time numbers. FNC’s 10 p.m. hour was up 10.5 in total viewers and up 13 percent in the news demo compared to Tuesday 10 p.m. hour.

The night-to-night ratings boost for CNN and MSNBC wasn’t quite as extreme as Fox News’, but it still existed. CNN’s Wednesday prime time coverage was up 8.5 percent in total viewers and up 9 percent in the news demo compared to its Tuesday prime time coverage. The network was up 14 percent in total viewers and up 12 percent in the news demo in the Wednesday 10 p.m. hour versus the Tuesday 10 p.m. hour.

MSNBC delivered positive numbers last night as well. The network’s prime time block was up 7 percent in total viewers and up 4 percent in the news demo compared to its Tuesday prime time coverage. The 10 p.m. performance was even stronger, +29 percent in total viewers and +19 percent in the news demo compared to the Tuesday, 10 p.m. hour.

Convention ratings trends for the broadcast networks seem to more dependent on the 9 p.m. lead-in, and we saw that again last night.

NBC’s 10 p.m. coverage was up 8 percent in total viewers and up 13.5 percent in the news demo compared to Tuesday’s 10 p.m. coverage. NBC also earns the designation of being the sole broadcast network to grow across the board from night three of the 2012 Republican National Convention, +24 percent in total viewers, and +21 percent in A25-54. It’s important to note that America’s Got Talent, one of TV’s most-watched summer series, was the lead-in. NBC will not have that lead-in this evening.

CBS was the second-most-watched broadcast network for convention coverage last night, and finished No. 3 in the news demo. The network grew by 2 percent in total viewers but fell 7 percent in the news demo from its Tuesday night coverage. Rookie drama American Gothic was the lead-in for last night’s coverage, and Big Brother will be the lead-in tonight…

ABC finished third in total viewers behind ABC and CBS, but finished in ahead of the Eye in the news demo. The network held steady in total viewers and was up 7 percent in the news demo compared to its Tuesday night coverage. Modern Family was the lead-in.

  • July 20: 8- 11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

Fox News: 5,813,000 / 1,313,000

CNN: 3,031,000 / 893,000

MSNBC: 1,645,000 / 452,000

  • July 20: 10-11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

Fox News: 7,337,000 / 1,724,000

NBC:  5,071,000 / 1,774,000

CNN: 3,504,000 / 1,061,000

CBS:  2,590,000 / 733,000

ABC:  2,326,000 / 804,000

MSNBC:  1,980,000 / 555,000

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