The Final Ratings from the Two Party Conventions Spell Bad News for Democrats

Democratic National Convention via AP

 

While the press applauds the Dems having a higher result they do not make a full measurement.

When the final tally of TV viewership for the Democratic and Republican presidential conventions came in it was deemed to be a net win for the Dems. While the RNC drew slightly higher on Tuesday evening, when First Lady Melania Trump Spoke, the remaining nights were won by the Democrats. Joe Biden’s speech on August 20 drew higher than President Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday evening, by less than 1 million.

While the 4-day average for the Democrats was higher than that for the GOP party – 21.6 million to 19.4m – there are two significant details which need analysis. The first being that much has been made that the average audiences were significantly lower that the 2016 conventions, a drop of about 20%. The reason behind this is the start of the revealing aspects. Many people were watching on streaming services and online apps, sources not counted in the ratings.

The issue with streaming numbers is there is not a current method to accurately compile audience figures on such a fractured marketplace. Making this more of a challenge is many outlets have numerous platforms to watch their content, and those carry their own viewer numbers. Just one example is seen with CBS. They held the convention on the primary network, and it was available to stream on CBS All Access. There is also the CBS News app accessible on numerous devices.

Then, making this all the more challenging, you had some outlets that would cut away from the convention while the apps were running the uninterrupted feed. How are those instances measured? Overall there were no marked increases in the streaming, they ran in a similar line with the broadcasts. Any who might have experienced significant spikes in streaming would have boldly announced it. It matters mostly in the comparison to 2016 totals.

The most revealing detail was the passage from Ad Week that explained what was lacking in these final numbers.

This does not take viewership on outlets like C-SPAN or OANN into account, or viewing on digital platforms. Only Nielsen-measured TV networks.

One metric was rather eye-opening. Many viewers had turned to C-SPAN for the conventions as many of the news outlets were intercutting their coverage with in-studio pundits commenting throughout, so those desiring uninterrupted coverage used that option. On C-SPAN’s live feed on the Monday start to the Republican convention they drew six times the audience that watched the Democrat’s opening night.  

This is significant. The CSPAN audience is generally far more engaged in politics. They seek out the network specifically for direct feeds of the political process. Then a further look into the audience and you see another notable detail. The viewers breakdown has been measured with an even spread — conservatives at 27%, Liberals 28%, and independents 36%. This means with the spike in C-SPAN interest the RNC was in fact reaching that coveted audience for elections, the undecided voter. 

Just more reasons that we have been seeing such imbalance coverage in the press this week, and so much reactionary anger coming from the Democrats.