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Viewers Scatter, MSNBC Rises and Combined Audience Grows During DNC

With Fox News Channel losing its RNC edge, cable's ratings returns are more evenly dispersed and fail to match broadcast competition in NBC.

Democratic National Convention Julian Castro - H 2012
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The first night of the Democratic National Convention reveals dramatically different viewing habits from last week's Republican National Convention, with more combined viewers tuning across the networks, Fox News Channel losing its edge to MSNBC and none of cable's offerings beating NBC's primetime coverage.

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From 8 to 11 p.m., Nielsen's overnight returns give MSNBC a cable victory of 3.3 million viewers, a sizable jump over last week's 1.32 million achieved during the primetime block. CNN was also saw its score more than double with 3 million viewers. Fox News Channel, whose RNC showing still eclipses both MSNBC and CNN's DNC scores by a mile, was in third with 2.5 million viewers.

The rankings held the same with the key adults 25-54 demographic. MSNBC led with 1.1 million, followed by CNN with 1 million and FNC with 554,000.

During the most-watched hour of 10 p.m., where First Lady Michelle Obama and keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro appeared, none of the cable networks matched NBC's showing. The broadcast network raked in 5 million viewers during the peak hour, with 1.9 million in adults 25-54 (and a 1.3 rating with 18-49-ers). MSNBC placed second with 4.1 million total viewers, followed by CNN (3.9 million), CBS (3.27 million), ABC (3.24 million) and FNC (2.4 million).

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Overall, the first night of the DNC outpaced the RNC by just over one million combined viewers across the three main cable news outlets and three broadcast networks during the 10 p.m. hour, with 21.9 million over 20.5 million total viewers.

During the three-hour cable block, average aggregate viewership was up slightly less, 8.8 million over 7.67 million.