WashPost Adds Up Seven Networks To Insist Clinton Speech Ratings Beat NFL Kickoff Game

Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes made a big deal on Friday about how Bill Clinton’s extremely verbose Wednesday night convention speech (when you add up seven networks) apparently trumped the season premiere of NFL football (which aired just on NBC.)

Actually, football beat Clinton, until the Post made a special mathematical effort to include ratings estimates from Current TV and PBS (but apparently couldn’t grab the C-SPAN numbers):

From 10:30-11:30 p.m., the game averaged 23.123 million viewers.

During that hour, Clinton’s address, which began around 10:30 and wrapped up at about 11:22 p.m., averaged about 22.769 million viewers across a collection of commercial networks including ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News Channel. That puts Clinton just 354,000 viewers behind the Giants and Cowboys.

Digging deeper, Current TV’s DNC coverage in that hour averaged 197,000 viewers. And, contacted by the TV Column, PBS, whose numbers are not given to reporters by Nielsen, estimates it averaged around 4 million viewers, based on Nielsen fast-national statistics.

Which puts Clinton over the top.

In an online chat Friday afternoon, de Moraes conceded her PBS estimates were quite soft: "PBS insists it logged 4 million viewers that night, which is a boatload of viewers...PBS is basing its estimate on less reliable stats than the other networks get because it costs more to get those more reliable stats, they say..."

When asked if it's an achievement or a victory for Clinton when the Post does its homework and adds up seven networks, de Moraes shot back:

Yes, it really is.....given that it was the kickoff game, the two teams playing, it's football, aka America's religion, and it's the DNC, at which absolutely nothing actually happens. And, it's not Clinton's fault the DNC is covered by so many networks. They do it because they consider it the price of their news divisions' credibility.

In her column on Friday, de Moraes conceded an obvious point: “At any rate, the football game scored a much bigger crowd for NBC than has any night of its RNC or DNC coverage.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis