Fox News Wins Convention Cycle, Dems Outdraw RNC

Interest in the incumbent drives stronger aggregate viewership, though no network outmatches FNC's six-day average or gross audience.
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With the confetti settled -- and likely cleaned up -- in both Charlotte and Tampa, the biggest winner of the 2012 convention cycle is Fox News Channel.

Buoyed by massive margins of victory during the Republican National Convention and a six-day total audience 32 million viewers during the prime 10-11 p.m. hour, the network bested its closest competition (NBC) by 7 million viewers. In the adults 25-54 demo -- which is more desirable to the cable news outlets than the broadcast networks that favor 18-49-year-olds -- Fox News placed second to NBC (8.52 million behind 9.7 million).

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No other network reached the highs FNC reached during the third night of the RNC (9.1 million viewers), giving it a dominant average nightly viewership of 5.34 million viewers. NBC placed second with 5.03 million, followed by ABC (3.66 million), CBS (3.4 million), CNN (3.1 million) and MSNBC (2.97 million).

In the adults 25-54 demo, both CBS and ABC's broadcast coverage outmatched CNN and MSNBC. The networks trailed NBC (1.94 million) and FNC (1.42 million), with ABC averaging 1.32 million and CBS averaging 1.26 million. CNN's six-night average was 1.15 million, while MSNBC trailed with 1.01 million.

NBC's strong showing over the other broadcast networks -- and in many cases, its cable competition -- also comes in spite of the fact that it did not air coverage of the second night of the Democratic National Convention because of the NFL season opener.

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In partisan terms, the DNC pulled in both a larger audience and more from the adults 25-54 demographic. The three nights' worth of DNC coverage, despite the absence of one night from NBC, grossed 70.2 million total viewers and 24.5 million adults 25-54 across the three main broadcast and cable news networks. The RNC was just behind with 65.9 million total viewers and 21.2 million adults 25-54.