Fox News, CNN Trump Broadcast in GOP Finale

By A.J. Katz 

Viewers flocked to their television sets (or perhaps their phones, laptops, tablets) for the final night of the 2016 Republican National Convention coverage, with multiple networks delivering record numbers for a G.O.P. convention telecast.

But as the headline states, cable dominated broadcast.

For the fourth consecutive night, Fox News was the most-watched network when it came to G.O.P. convention coverage. It was also the highest-rated network of the night, defeating NBC, which had won the demo each of the first three nights. FNC delivered its most-watched night of the 2016 convention, and the second-most-watched prime time for any G.O.P. convention 2004 through the present. FNC delivered closed to 7.4 million total viewers on night 3 of the 2008 G.O.P. convention, up from the almost 7.2 million who tuned into the network last night.


It was a very strong night for CNN. The network delivered its strongest RNC night on record, delivering over 4.3 million total viewers in prime time. The previous high was 4.1 million who tuned into night 2 of the 2008 G.O.P. convention. CNN also beat all broadcast networks for the first time ever on the final night of the convention, both in total viewers and in the news demo. Compared to the final night of the RNC in 2012, CNN was up a whopping 161 percent in total viewers, and up 137 percent among A25-54 during prime time.

MSNBC delivered its most-watched night not only of this G.O.P. convention, but of all GOP conventions from 2004 through the present. Last night was the second-highest-rated night for the network in the news demo. Only night 2 of the 2008 G.O.P. convention delivered more A25-54 viewers.

The story was a bit different for the broadcast networks, which as we mentioned yesterday have seen its ratings more influenced by their respective lead-ins. NBC defeated the broadcast competition for the fourth consecutive night, both in total viewers and in the news demo. That said, the Peacock was down in total viewers from nights 2 and 3, and slightly down from night 3 in the news demo. NBC didn’t have America’s Got Talent as its lead-in last night, which may have played a role in the slight decline.

The battle for second place among the broadcast networks delivered somewhat of a surprising result. Despite a Big Brother lead-in, CBS fell short versus ABC at 10 p.m., both in total viewers and in the news demo. CBS defeated ABC in total viewers on nights 2 and 3.

That being said, night 4 was the top night of the convention for both CBS and ABC in total viewers as well as in the news demo.

*It’s important to note that broadcast nets reported Nielsen data for the 10 – 11:45 p.m. ET interval, which is when Ivanka and Donald Trump spoke. The broadcast networks did not report the 10 – 11 p.m. ET hour, which had been the norm on previous convention nights.

  • July 21: 8- 11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

Fox News: 7,179,000 / 1,728,000

CNN: 4,323,000 / 1,375,000

MSNBC: 2,395,000 / 716,000


  • July 21: 10-11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

Fox News: 9,724,000 / 2,585,000

CNN: 5,799,000 / 2,014,000

MSNBC:  3,053,000 / 974,000


  • July 21: 10-11:45 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

Fox News: 9,353,525 / 2,483,186

CNN: 5,476,554 / 1,901,198

NBC:  4,587,000 / 1,766,000

ABC:  3,861,000 / 1,431,000

CBS:  3,809,000 / 1,208,000

MSNBC:  2,953,582 / 927,309