Convention TV Audience Tilts DNC Nationally, GOP Locally


If national TV viewership for the political conventions foreshadow November’s presidential election results, it will be a tight race with a Democratic win within the margin of error.

But local viewership ratings suggest more of a horse race.

Final ratings for Thursday night’s speech by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are yet to be figured in the mix, so ratings for this week’s Democratic National Convention are not final.

These numbers reflect the audience on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, MSNBC and CNN. Ratings for FOX were predictably higher during the RNC. MSNBC ratings were higher during the DNC.

These figures do not include alternative viewership, streaming and otherwise, nor the RNCTV or DNCTV telecasts – shown on different channels by different cable and satellite services – without interruption.

Total viewers for each night at each convention, from the A.C. Nielsen company, were:


  • Monday (Michelle Obama) 26 million
  • Tuesday (Bill Clinton) 24.7 million
  • Wednesday (Tim Kaine, Pres. Obama) 24.03 million
  • Thursday  (Hillary Clinton) 28 million, preliminary.


  • Monday (Melania Trump, Rudy Giuliani) 23 million
  • Tuesday (Donald Trump Jr., Tiffany Trump, Chris Christie, Ben Carson) 19.8 million
  • Weds (Mike Pence, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker) 23.4 million
  • Thursday (Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump) 32.2 million


Below find the local cumulative audience for convention coverage on WISN, WTMJ, WITI, WDJT, CNN, FOX and MSNBC. Because the conventions often ran long the numbers are approximate.

Generally however, the RNC won Monday and Wednesday. The other two nights were a draw.

Local numbers for Thursday’s speech by Hillary Clinton are approximate.

WITI-TV aired a mix of convention and its local newscast both weeks. Its newscast ratings usually beat convention coverage. The first number below represents the total local audience without WITI.

The second number includes WITI.

During the RNC, NBC’s coverage on WTMJ won three of four nights.

During the DNC WTMJ won Monday and Tuesday, WITI won Wednesday, and ABC affiliate WISN won Thursday.

A local rating point is the equivalent of 8,822 TV homes.


  • Monday 104,982 (163,207)
  • Tuesday 125,272 (192,319)
  • Wednesday 118,214 (186,144)
  • Thursday 139,387 (159,382)


  • Monday 130,565 (175,557)
  • Tuesday 110,275 (177,322)
  • Wednesday 138,505 (167,618)
  • Thursday 158,796 (197,612)
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