An unexpected display of unity was on view at Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention as Hillary Clinton delivered her prime-time speech. Unity, at least, in the way the event was covered by broadcast and cable news networks.
Until the New York senator was about to hit the stage, what happened at the DNC podium was pretty much invisible, unless you watched C-SPAN, PBS or the raw DNC satellite feed. Virginia Gov. Mark Warner’s speech was the only pre-10 p.m. ET speech covered by the cable networks.
In the hour when the commercial broadcasters showed up, though, things were pretty much across the board. Everyone, on broadcast and cable, showed the introductory Hillary video intact – except for NBC, which joined it in progress in order to squeeze in a few more ads. Everyone showed Chelsea Clinton’s brief introduction of her mother.
And everyone, of course, showed Hillary – and lots and lots of reaction shots from Bill Clinton. Hillary’s speech ran a few minutes overtime, past the 11 p.m. mark, which meant the commercial broadcasters had to surrender the air time to local newscasts almost immediately.
Showing up late and leaving early – it doesn’t seem like the best use of resources, or any way for broadcast TV to attract and hold viewers and sell its brand as a go-to news outlet.
What reaction was squeezed in, though, was generally quite positive. Typical was Bob Schieffer’s reaction at CBS, where he said, “I don’t know how Barack Obama could have asked for more.”
Viewers watching commercial broadcast TV, though, could have asked for a lot more. Instead, we got Wipeout and Wanna Bet?, Big Brother and America’s Got Talent.