Early viewership numbers for the first evening of the Republican National Convention were released Tuesday ― and even though President Donald Trump always wants the biggest and best ratings, the RNC’s kickoff trailed behind the opening night of last week’s Democratic convention.
According to early Nielsen Media Research figures, viewership for the first night of the RNC averaged at about 15.84 million, trailing the DNC’s opening night of 18.69 million viewers.
The numbers reflected viewership across ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC from 10 to 11 p.m. EST, and did not include online livestreams. Fox News drew 7.06 million viewers alone. CNN came in second with 2.01 million viewers, and ABC was third with 1.98 million.
The viewership of both conventions was down compared to 2016’s numbers, likely because of the scaled-down, livestreamed nature of the events amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The Republicans suffered about a 29% drop in viewership, while the Democrats saw viewership decline by 27%.
The one arena where the RNC’s numbers beat the DNC’s was C-SPAN, where the livestream of the RNC’s first night drew approximately 440,000 viewers to the DNC’s 76,000.
Trump, however, tends to fixate on television and approval ratings rather than livestream numbers. The president previously boasted that the ratings of his press conferences are “‘Bachelor’ finale, ‘Monday Night Football’ numbers,” dismissed Joe Biden for having “no ratings” and questioned why Dr. Anthony Fauci had a higher approval rating than himself.
News of the RNC’s low television numbers ― despite the Trump administration’s efforts to pull off a blockbuster event ― quickly began making the rounds on Twitter, with commentators pointing out that Trump was unlikely to be pleased.