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TV audience up 20% over '04 Democratic convention

The opening night of the Democratic National Convention drew more than 22 million viewers, a 20% larger audience than in 2004, according to Nielsen Media Research.

NBC drew the most viewers, pulling an average of 4.71 million viewers for its hour-long special anchored by Brian Williams, up 4% from four years ago.

Despite the huge appetite for political news this season, the ratings for its broadcast competition declined. ABC’s special attracted 4.17 million viewers, down 5% from 2004. CBS fared the worst, pulling in 3.46 million viewers, a drop of 24%.

The picture was far rosier for the cable news networks, whose decision to devote nearly all their programming to convention coverage paid off. All three posted major gains over 2004.

CNN’s ratings propelled it past ABC and CBS at the 7 p.m. Pacific hour, when Michelle Obama gave the night’s keynote speech. The cable news network averaged 4.27 million viewers, beating the broadcast networks for the first time with its convention coverage.

Between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. PDT, the convention’s prime-time lineup, CNN also had the largest cable news audience, averaging 3.7 million viewers, 85% more than in 2004. Fox News drew just over 3 million viewers, up 84%, while MSNBC posted 2.15 million viewers, a boost of 88.%

Meanwhile, PBS’ three-hour coverage block was viewed by about 2.8 million people, down slightly from 2004, according to a projection by the public broadcaster based on preliminary Nielsen numbers. Final PBS ratings were not immediately available.

-- Matea Gold

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I think this race is going to get a lot more people involved in politics.

These numbers probably don't reflect the millions more who watched today on youtube and other sites. There is an upside to high gasoline and food prices... people are finally coming around to paying attention to the election. Let us hope the trend continues through Nov. and translates into getting involved, getting behind "a" candidate, and getting out to vote! With everyone involved, no one is hurt on either side of the fence. This is our chance babes to take back this country. Don't blow it a third time in a row.

BIll O'Reilly lied in his show yesterday, Tuesday, implying that Fox News came top in the democratic convention coverage. now I find out reading this website and others like the Wall Street Journal that in fact CNN beat Fox News on the first DNC night. What a liar!

Just wondering why C-SPAN numbers not included.

Eric, But you watched BIll O'Reilly inst that against the holy left wing law

You people are so one sided its sick
I swear the Far left is the group of kid who were picked on in high school who now team up together as adults

Clinton is our savior
McCain is the Devil

Get over yourself's

when you all realize the President plays a one role in our GOV everything that happens inst all their fault the Senate has ALOT more to do with America's happening then who is in office

Pay attention kids they may be a quiz.

Where is C-SPAN?
Also Direct TV has its channel covering DNC, how about including those as well.

Besides these MSM, how about online viewers?

What's with Jane? It's one thing to be annoying. Another thing to also be name calling entire parties on a blog. But the worst part is that she's completely illiterate. I wonder if she was picked on at school for being slow?

O'Reilly said that his show won its hour time slot. Not that FNC beat CNN for the whole night. It's possible (and likely) that both are true. O'Reilly has won his time slot for 7 years in a row.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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