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CNN Leads In Ratings Of Convention Coverage

August 29, 2008

Associated Press

Interest in the Democratic convention among television viewers continues to run well ahead of 2004, although vice presidential candidate Joe Biden was a slightly less potent draw than Hillary Clinton.

CNN was also claiming a milestone in the network’s history, beating ABC and CBS in head-to-head competition and running in stride with NBC on Wednesday. In nearly three decades, CNN has never beat all three broadcast networks in viewership when competing directly.

An estimated 24 million people watched the convention Wednesday between 10 to 11 p.m. on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, BET and TV One, according to Nielsen Media Research. Viewership on Tuesday, when Clinton spoke, was just under 26 million.

Those numbers don’t include commercial-free PBS, which estimates it had 3 million convention viewers on Wednesday, or C-SPAN.

The third day of the 2004 convention, where John Kerry was nominated, had nearly 18 million viewers. Day two that year, which was not shown by the broadcasters, had 5.9 million.

This year on Wednesday, CNN had 5.38 million viewers from 10 to 11 p.m. ET, while NBC had 5.36 million, ABC had 3.48 million, CBS had 3.46 million, Fox had 2.7 million and MSNBC had 2.3 million, Nielsen said.

Yet NBC was actually on the air covering the convention until 11:03 p.m., and when those extra three minutes are added in, its average reaches 5.46 million. Nielsen is unable to break down CNN’s viewership for those three minutes, so the true victor remains unclear. CNN was second to NBC on Monday and Tuesday.

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