Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for president drew the biggest ratings of the 2020 Republican National Convention, but it came in well behind the 2016 gathering. His acceptance speech also trailed that of Joe Biden at the Democratic convention last week.
The six major networks covering the convention at 10 p.m. ET Thursday averaged 19.85 million viewers, topping the 18.02 million for Tuesday’s coverage for the biggest audience of the RNC.
It was down by more than a third — 34 percent — from Trump’s acceptance speech at the 2016 convention. On that night, 30.22 million people tuned in across the same six networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Trump’s speech also trailed the final night of the Democratic convention last week, which averaged 21.78 million viewers on the same six outlets.
Adding in Fox Business, PBS, Spanish-language broadcasters Telemundo and Univision and a couple of smaller outlets brought Thursday’s total to 23.81 million, closer to the 24.6 million who watched the last night of the Democratic convention. The all-network audience down 26 percent from the final night of the 2016 convention.
All six major networks declined from four years ago, with Fox News (9.18 million viewers, vs. 9.49 million in 2016) once again dominating the night’s coverage. ABC finished second with 2.58 million viewers, followed by NBC (2.28 million), CNN (2.18 million), MSNBC (1.85 million) and CBS (1.78 million). Fox Business had about 1.2 million viewers.
The declines for the broadcast networks at both conventions are particularly stark. In 2016, ABC, CBS and NBC averaged better than 12 million viewers combined for the closing night of both conventions. This year, they drew 7.11 million viewers for the close of the Democratic convention and 6.64 million on Thursday.
The four nights of the Republican convention averaged 17.36 million viewers across the big six outlets, down 27 percent from four years ago, and 19.39 million with the additional networks (down 21 percent). The DNC slipped by 21 percent on the big six, averaging 20.12 million viewers vs. 25.51 million in 2016. Its all-network average of 21.59 million is off by 18 percent from 2016.
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