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Democrats Beat Republicans In Convention Television Ratings

Members of the District of Columbia Democratic Party attend a drive-in watch party in the parking lot of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to watch Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accept the Democratic nomination for president on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on August 20, 2020.
Members of the District of Columbia Democratic Party attend a drive-in watch party in the parking lot of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium to watch Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden accept the Democratic nomination for president on the final night of the Democratic National Convention on August 20, 2020.

The GOP lost the TV ratings race this week, as prime time viewership for the Republican National Convention was consistently below figures for the Democratic party's virtual convention last week, according to figures released by Nielsen.

Republicans got their largest audience on Thursday, when President Donald Trump accepted his party's nomination for re-election, with an estimated 23.8 million people tuned in from 10 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. across 13 different networks. That was less than the 24.6 million people who watched the night Joe Biden accepted the Democratic nomination for president across 12 networks--one fewer--on the final evening of that party's convention on Aug. 20.

Opening night numbers showed a wider gap, with 17 million viewers for the RNC's first evening on Monday, compared to 19.7 million viewers for the DNC on Aug. 17; Wednesday night saw 17.3 million viewers for the RNC compared to 22.8 million who watched Aug. 19, when Kamala Harris accepted the vice presidential nomination.

The only night the GOP drew better than the Democrats was on the convention's second evening, Tuesday, which featured a speech from First Lady Melania Trump. The RNC drew 19.4 viewers over 11 networks, compared to the Democrats' 19.2 million viewers on Aug. 18.

President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020,
Alex Brandon / AP
President Donald Trump speaks from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020,

Numbers this year for both Republicans and Democrats were lower than in 2016. For example, the final night of the RNC in 2016 — featuring then-candidate Trump accepting the GOP nomination for president — drew 32.2 million viewers. Similarly, the final night of the DNC, which featured Hillary Clinton accepting the party's nomination, drew 29.8 million viewers.

Nielsen's figures do not include online viewing.

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