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Melania Trump proved to be a tough act to follow, but the Republican National Convention waged on in Cleveland on Tuesday night — with speeches from Donald Trump Jr., House speaker Paul Ryan and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
The second night of the first political convention of the 2016 presidential campaign, which followed a solid ratings debut across both broadcast and cable news networks, brought another Big Four win for NBC News. The outlet led the widely-covered 10 o’clock primetime hour with an average 4.7 million viewers, a solid boost from the night before, though the other two broadcast nets were down. CBS News came in No. 2 with 2.5 million viewers, followed by ABC News with 2.3 million viewers for a gross broadcast audience of nearly 10 million viewers.
All told, Monday’s broadcast coverage pulled 10.2 million viewers. With cable and a handful of other networks, Nielsen estimates that the night brought a total 23 million viewers to primetime coverage of the RNC. Fox News Channel and CNN led the pack overall, besting all three of the broadcast networks in total viewers.
FNC again topped all on Tuesday, averaging 5.3 million viewers during the 10 p.m. hour. CNN finished a strong second, though behind NBC News for the night, with 3.1 million viewers. MSNBC attracted 1.5 million for the night, and PBS drew 1.3 million. That’s roughly 21 million viewers before additional networks are factored in. Once all of Tuesday’s numbers are tallied, there will be a little more clarity about how the 2016 RCN is pacing compared to the previous two outings. In 2008, the second night of the GOP convention brought 23.4 million viewers during the primetime hour, while 2012 was only down a shade from that with 22.3 million viewers. The first night of both 2008 and 2012 were sidelined by hurricanes, however, so the second nights also served as something of delayed kickoffs.
Rankings in the key news demo of adults 25-54 give NBC News the advantage with 1.6 million viewers in the group. FNC was next with 1.2 million, followed by CNN (944,000), CBS News (792,000), ABC News (749,000) and MSNBC (467,000).
“Flat” may be the new “up” where the rest of television is concerned, but news outlets went into the 2016 conventions hoping for a significant lift from years past. Strong showings from the debate cycle, largely credited to Donald Trump and his colorful performances, halted the recent trend of broadcasters pulling back on coverage of the extended affairs. It now looks like if there’s a significant boost from previous years, it won’t come until Trump takes the stage on Thursday night.
In terms of counterprogramming, America’s Got Talent outperformed all three networks’ convention coverage with 10.8 million viewers on NBC. The competition show, barely down in the key demo from last week, also led with a 2.2 rating among adults 18-49.
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