TV Ratings: RNC Viewership Still Looking for a Trump Bump

Ted Cruz RNC Getty H 2016
Getty Images

Ted Cruz RNC Getty H 2016

Wednesday's penultimate Republican National Convention showing of the 2016 convention got heated when Ted Cruz failed to officially endorse his former campaign-trail foe Donald Trump, but the ratings were not that dramatic.

Keeping in line with 2012, the third night of the RCN will likely be its lowest-rated if cable returns are on pace with the early broadcast statistics. Only NBC News was up in Nielsen's fast affiliate ratings. Those numbers, subject to adjustment, have NBC up to an average 5.1 million viewers during the 10 o'clock hour (through 11:17 p.m. ET) when all broadcast news outlets were covering the convention.

CBS News came in No. 2 with 2.6 million viewers followed by ABC News with 2.3 million viewers. Both networks were slightly up from the night before for a gross broadcast audience of roughly 10 million viewers — on par with the night before.

There's still a lot of good news. On top of NBC's continued growth throughout the week, Fox News Channel has improved its showing as well. Wednesday night hit a weekly high for the network with 7.3 million viewers at 10 p.m. That's the biggest single-network haul this week, up 16 percent from the top of the week. CNN was improved from Tuesday night, with 3.5 million viewers. MSNBC delivered a crowd of 1.98 million.

This follows Tuesday night totals in the primetime hour of 19.8 million viewers across networks, a lower number than any of the three nights in 2008 or 2012.

In the key news demographic of adults 25-54, rankings differ slightly from total viewership. NBC News leads with 1.77 million, followed closely by FNC's 1.72 million. CNN fetched 1.06 million adults 25-54, followed by ABC News (804,000), CBS News (733,000) and MSNBC (555,000).

Programmers are certainly expecting Thursday's final showing of the RNC to go out on a high note. Trump's official acceptance speech of the GOP nomination, scheduled to take place just after 10 p.m. E.T. on Thursday night, will be the first time that the firebrand candidate has spoken at length during the event.

To outperform Mitt Romney in 2012, he'll have to do better than 30.3 million viewers during the hour of his speech. To best 2008's John McCain speech, however, he'll have to top a total of nearly 42 million.

In the world of counter-programming, America's Got Talent secured a broadcast win with 10.2 million viewers and a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49 — off a little from last week's Wednesday showing. Fox had new episodes of MasterChef (1.2 adults) and Wayward Pines (0.7 adults), and CBS aired Big Brother (1.7 adults). On the CW, Penn & Teller: Fool Us and Whose Line Is It Anyway? each fetched a 0.3 rating in the key demo.