ABC Draws Largest Democratic National Convention Night One Audience in Early Numbers

On the first night of the Democratic National Convetion (DNC), which saw Michelle Obama deliver a rousing speech to steal the show, ABC drew the largest total audience, at least according to early estimates.

The Disney-owned network drew 2.1 million total viewers to its 10 p.m. coverage of the convention, and scored a 0.3 rating among adults 18-49. NBC tied in the demo, but came second with 1.9 million viewers. CBS lagged behind in the third with a 0.2 rating and 1.7 million total viewers. That gives a total of around 5.8 million viewers across all three, which is around half the viewership from the last convention.

As far as those early numbers go (the fuller picture with the cable networks will become clearer later in the day), the 2020 DNC looks like it could be way down on the last edition in 2016, which isn’t necessarily surprising given that much of this year’s convention is pre-taped and that television viewership as a whole has declined significantly in the last four years.

Back in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was the center of attention as the Democratic nominee, ABC and NBC tied the hour with a 1.0 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic, more than three times their scored this time around. Meanwhile CBS scored a 0.5 rating, which wasn’t matched by any of the networks in 2020. ABC exactly scored almost exactly twice as many viewers last time around with 4.2 million. NBC drew 3.8 million and CBS 2.6 million, meaning that none of the broadcast networks reached the heights of four years prior.

Speakers at last night’s convention focused on the “three crises” Democrats are seeking to underscore: the pandemic, mass unemployment and the crisis of racial justice.

Obama’s speech, which was pre-taped, touched on each of those and was without doubt the highlight of the night. Eva Longoria was the host, switching between political speeches, video montages and testimonials from regular citizens.

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