Viewers Continued to Choose Cable Over Broadcast on Night 3 of the DNC

By A.J. Katz Comment

Night 3 of the 2016 Democratic National Convention delivered strong ratings for the cable news networks.

CNN dominated the competition, both in total viewers and in the key A25-54 demo on a night when the Democrats brought out their heavy-hitters in prime time, led by VP Joe Biden, former New York City mayor, billionaire businessman and Independent Michael Bloomberg, Democratic nominee for Vice President Tim Kaine and President Barack Obama, each of whom gave a speech during the daypart. Looking at the 10 – 11:45 p.m. ET block, which was when Kaine and President Obama spoke, CNN was up 4 percent in total viewers and up 5 percent in the news demo compared to the similar time interval on night 2. The network was also up 76 percent in total viewers and up 103 percent in the news demo compared to night 3 of the RNC when Eric Trump and Gov. Mike Pence spoke.

Looking at prime time (8 – 11 p.m. ET), CNN was up 7 percent in total viewers and up 6 percent in the news demo compared to night 2 of the DNC. The network was up 65 percent in total viewers and up 82 percent in the news demo compared to night 3 of the RNC. Additionally, CNN was up 22 percent in total viewers and up 4 percent in the news demo compared to night 3 of the 2012 DNC. It’s important to note that night 3 of the 2012 DNC also happened to be the final night of that convention.

MSNBC had a strong night, despite its runner-up finish. The network finished No. 2 in overall viewers ahead of big brother NBC in the 10 – 11:45 p.m. block. The network delivered a 28 percent bump in total viewers and a 21 percent bump in the news demo compared to the 10 p.m. coverage on night 2. Additionally, MSNBC delivered a 26.5 percent bump in total prime time viewers and a 16 percent bump in the demo compared to night 2. Interestingly, MSNBC was up 11.5 percent in total prime time viewers but down 17.5 percent in the news demo compared to night 3 of the 2012 DNC. Perhaps the network is skewing older than it did in 2012.

NBC was once again the go-to broadcast network for DNC coverage, defeating both ABC and CBS on night 3. That said, the Peacock saw its total viewership dip from night 2 of the convention (-21 percent) and also be down from night 3 of this year’s RNC (-18 percent). One theory for the decline is that potential NBC News viewers decided to stick with sibling MSNBC through the 10 p.m. hour after originally tuning in to watch Vice President Biden speak during the 9 p.m. ET hour.

ABC had a strong night, despite finishing behind NBC. The network was up 3 percent in total viewers and up 17 percent in the news demo from night 2. Last night’s lead-in was Black-ish. The story gets more interesting when we compare last night with viewing figures for night 3 of the RNC. ABC was up 53 percent in total viewers and up 60 percent in the key demo last night versus night 3 of the RNC.

CBS experienced a slight dip last night in total viewers (-3 percent), but was up in the news demo (+4 percent) compared to night 2 of the DNC. CBS was also up 10 percent in total viewers and up 26 percent in the news demo compared to night 3 of the RNC.

Fox News experienced an interesting night-to-night trend. The network’s 10 p.m. ET coverage was down 16 percent in total viewers but up to 4 percent in the news demo compared to its night 2 coverage. In prime time (8 – 11 p.m. ET), FNC was down 7 percent in total viewers but even in the news demo. Compared against night 3 of the 2012 DNC, Fox News was up 3 percent in total viewers but down 9 percent in the news demo. Again, night 3 of the 2012 DNC happened to be the final night of that convention.

The combined broadcast and cable network coverage trends are noteworthy. 24.05 million total viewers across 6 networks watched the 10 p.m. ET coverage of night 3. That is down -1 percent from the night 2 total, but up +5.5 percent from night 3 of this year’s RNC. 7.94 million of the 24.05 million total from night 3 were A25-54. That’s up +2 percent from night 2 and up 19 percent from night 3 of the RNC.

Lastly, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News delivered a combined 11.77 million total prime time viewers on night 3. That’s up 9 percent from night 2, and up 12 percent from night 3 of the RNC. The story in the news demo was a bit different. Night 3 of the DNC delivered a combined 3.30 million A25-54 viewers across the 3 networks, a 7.5 percent bump from night 2, a 24 percent bump from night 3 of the RNC, but a 6 percent drop from night 3 of the 2012 DNC.

  • July 27: 10 – 11:45 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

CNN:  6,169,000/ 2,158,000

MSNBC:  4,918,000 / 1,413,000

NBC: 4,167,000 / 1,504,000

ABC:  3,550,000 / 1,282,000

CBS:  2,860,000 / 922,000

Fox News:  2,394,000 / 662,000

  • July 27: 8- 11 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 Demo

CNN:  5,010,000 / 1,625,000

MSNBC:  4,025,000 / 1,064,000

Fox News:  2,739,000 / 611,000

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