Ratings for Democrat Convention's First Night Fall Sharply From 2016

August 19th, 2020 12:18 AM

With the 2020 Democratic National Convention going virtual, Monday’s ratings saw a total drop about 28 percent from the first evening of the event four years ago in both television numbers and cable TV coverage. And considering its awkward, pre-recorded, unenthusiastic makeup, it was easy to see why.

Nonetheless, the Fox News Channel's special coverage scored a win by beating out broadcast network CBS, which fetched 1.9 million total and 425,000 in the 25-54 range.

According to a Tuesday article from The Hollywood Reporter's Rick Porter, broadcast networks were hardest hit:

ABC has a small edge in viewers over NBC and CBS in covering the remote event.
Ratings for the Democratic National Convention were down considerably from four years ago on the broadcast networks and three main cable news channels — not a surprising result given that much of the convention isn't taking place live and the general decline of linear TV viewing in the past four years.

The common hour-plus of coverage starting at 10 p.m. ET averaged 18.68 million viewers on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. That's down about 28 percent compared to the opening night of the 2016 Democratic convention.

The broadcast networks suffered the biggest drops:  ABC, CBS and NBC combined for about 6.7 million viewers at 10 p.m., off by 42 percent from the 11.6 million who tuned in four years ago. ABC led the trio with 2.44 million viewers, followed by NBC (2.28 million) and CBS (1.99 million).

Cable news made up some of the difference, with MSNBC leading the 10 p.m. ET hour with 5.1 million viewers. CNN averaged 4.78 million and Fox News 2.1 million. The combined 11.98 million viewers was off by 16 percent from 2016.

And as Thorne noted above, one non-COVID-related reason for the drop could be "the general decline of linear TV viewing" since 2016.

Returning to the main networks, Porter stated that the other channels aired repeats in primetime that night. The CW got steady numbers from Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Penn & Teller: Fool Us.

Meanwhile, Fox, NBC and Univision tied for the lead among viewers ranging in age from 18 to 49 years old, all averaging a tiny 0.4 rating. ABC, CBS and Telemundo also tied at 0.3, while The CW drew just 0.2.

Also covering the first night’s programming was Dino-Ray Ramos, an associate editor/reporter for the Deadline Hollywood podcast, who stated that, prior to the 10:00 p.m. Eastern hour: “[T]he rest of the evening was filled with reruns. NBC aired a repeat of American Ninja Warrior, while ABC served second helpings of Holey Moley and To Tell the Truth.”

In addition, CBS showed reruns of its Monday night lineup of The Neighborhood, Bob Hearts Abishola and All Rise, while at Fox, audiences watched reruns of 9-1-1 and 9-1-1: Lone Star.

Overall on Monday, FNC finished first in cable news. From 3:00 a.m. Eastern Monday to 3:00 a.m. Eastern Tuesday, they pulled in an average of 1.8 million total viewers and 327,000 in the 25-54 demo.

Monday was also the first day of MSNBC host and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferer Nicolle Wallace's Deadline: White House expanding from one to two hours, but the second hour wasn't a ratings winner. Instead, FNC's The Five won out in both metrics (3.3 million total viewers and 489,000 in the 25-54 demo).