CNN can claim a win in the 10 p.m. hour – topping the broadcast competition – for the third night of the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday in head to head competition.
CNN pulled in 5.38 million viewers and 2.83 million of them in news’ sales demographic of 25-54 year-olds from 10-11 p.m. NBC News meanwhile grabbed 5.36 million viewers from 10-11 p.m.
But the network’s coverage extended to 11:03 p.m. when vice presidential candidate Joe Biden wrapped up his speech. So adding those three minutes in, NBC posted 5.46 million viewers. CBS News also went to 11:03 p.m., giving the network 3.53 million viewers and putting it ahead of ABC which ended at 11 p.m. and was watched by 3.48 million viewers.
(Cable news cannot break out numbers in less than 15 minute intervals.)
The extra three minutes are a technicality, depending on who is crunching the numbers.
But one thing is clear; the 2008 presidential race continues to be a boon for television news and CNN has certainly delivered during the Democratic National Convention. The network has grown its ratings considerably compared to 2004.
In primetime, CNN averaged 4.2 million viewers last night, that’s a 95% increase compared to 2004.
MSNBC attracted 2.1 million viewers (8-11 p.m.), a 96 % increase from ’04.
And Fox News, despite not being the first cable news network of choice for many Democrats, averaged 2.9 million viewers, up 61% compared to 2004. Fox News will likely have a stronger showing next week during the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul. The network beat all three broadcast networks on each night of the 2004 Republican National Convention.
But looking ahead to the RNC, Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S. expects viewer interest to hold.
“We got a lot of viewers for our Republican debate in January in Los Angeles,” said Klein. “If anything the race has turned into a dead heat and so I think that there’s going to be a lot more interest in the Republican convention than people may have thought originally. This campaign is a dead heat. I think people of all stripes Democrats and Republicans are going to want to see who this guy John McCain is. And I think you’ve got a lot of Democrats who aren’t sure who they’re going to vote for and a lot of Republicans as well.”