Early Nielsen Data Shows 15.7 Million Viewers Watched Night 3 of the RNC Across 6 Networks, Down 13% From Night 2

By A.J. Katz 

Nielsen update (5:55 p.m. ET):

The final Nielsen live-plus-same-day data from last night is in, and it shows an estimated 17.3 million people tuned in to watch the third night of the 2020 Republican National Convention. Day three of the convention was carried live across 11 networks. The night featured speeches from former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and vice president Mike Pence, who formally accepted his nomination as the 2020 Republican vice presidential candidate.

While coverage varied by network, all 11 aired live coverage from approximately 10:00 p.m. ET to 11:15 p.m. ET.


The networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, CNNe, Fox Business Network, Fox News, MSNBC, Newsmax and Newsy.


VP Mike Pence gave the keynote speech and formally accepted the Republican Party nomination for vice president during the third night of the 2020 Republican National Convention.

What did the tune-in numbers look like? According to early Nielsen ratings data, 15.7 million total viewers and 3.8 million adults 25-54 tuned in to watch the 10-11:15 p.m. ET common coverage period across six broadcast and cable networks: CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NBC, ABC and CBS. This total does not include streaming viewership figures, non-Nielsen-measured networks (like C-SPAN) or the Spanish-language broadcasters.

Final data from 5 additional networks will be released at approximately 6 p.m. ET, and the above totals will obviously increase.

As of now, night 3 is down 13% in total viewers and down 10% in A25-54 demo viewers vs. night two of this year’s convention, and down 34% in total viewers and down 43% in demo viewers versus the third night of the 2016 RNC, a night which included the legendary Sen. Ted Cruz snub (in addition to then-Gov. Pence’s keynote address).

How do these totals compare with night three of the DNC, a night featuring former President Obama followed by Sen. Kamala Harris formally accepting the Democratic Party nomination for vp? Early Nielsen data showed an average of 21.4 million total viewers and 5.5 million adults 25-54 across the top 3 cablers and top 3 broadcasters that evening. That’s a 27% difference in total viewers, and a 30% difference in adults 25-54 viewers from night 3 of the RNC.

After final live-plus-same-day data rolled in, the DNC night 3 total climbed to 22.8 million total viewers across 10 networks. We’ll find out what the final RNC night three total is later today.

Fox News dominated the landscape once again. In fact, of the 6 networks currently reporting, 45% of total RNC night three viewers watched on Fox News. Just 13% watched on NBC, 12% on ABC, 11% on CBS, 10% on CNN, and 9% watched night 3 RNC common coverage on MSNBC.

FNC averaged nearly 7.1 million viewers and 1.4 million in the demo, surpassing ABC, CBS and NBC combined in total viewership as well as CNN and MSNBC combined in both measurements. That said, the network was down in viewers, both night-to-night and year-over-year.

NBC was the top broadcast network once again, despite losing a chunk of its night two audience (NBC’s night two coverage had America’s Got Talent as a lead in, wile last night’s coverage had Ellen’s Game of Games lead-in).

CBS was the only network, broadcast or cable, to post night-to-night growth. It had reality competition shows Big Brother, and Tough as Nails as its lead-ins. CBS also finished ahead of CNN and MSNBC in both total viewers and adults 25-54. The aforementioned CNN and MSNBC brought up the rear in the 10-11:15 p.m. ET common coverage period.

  • Aug. 26: 10-11:15 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / Night-to-Night Change % / Year-Over-Year Change %

Fox News: 7,066,000 /-11% / -4%

NBC: 1.966,000/ -21% /-61%

ABC: 1,895,000/ -10% / -19%

CBS: 1,781,000/ +18% / -49%

CNN: 1,515,000/ -29% / -57%

MSNBC: 1,480,000/ -21% / -25%

  • Aug. 26: 10-11:15 p.m. ET | A25-54 Demo/ Night-to-Night Change % / Year-Over-Year Change %

Fox News: 1,383,000/-15% / -20%

NBC: 595,000/ -13% / -66%

ABC: 534,000/ -5% / -34%

CBS: 497,000/ +37% / -32%

CNN: 487,000 /-21% / -54%

MSNBC: 311,000 / -21% / -44%