Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton drew 30 million television viewers for Thursday night’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, a tally that fell just over 2 million short of Donald Trump’s audience a week earlier in Cleveland.
Clinton’s speech capped a four-day Democratic convention that featured a stream of political heavyweights and celebrities and was widely considered to be better produced than last week’s Republican gathering.
In addition to introducing running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) to a national audience, the Democratic showcase featured speeches by President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, first lady Michelle Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). And while the Republican convention offered the likes of actor Scott Baio, the stable of stars on the Democratic side included singers Katie Perry, Alicia Keys, Paul Simon and Lenny Kravitz, as well as actors Eva Longoria, Elizabeth Banks and Meryl Streep.
The DNC averaged more primetime viewers each of the first three nights against the RNC: 26 to 23 million (Monday), 24 to 19 million (Tuesday) and 24 to 23.4 million (Wednesday).
A self-described “ratings machine,” Trump fell short of expectations for his nomination speech last week and downplayed the DNC’s winning stream through most of this week. “I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday,” he told the New York Times.
Several hours before Clinton’s speech, Trump urged his supporters not to watch. Whether Trump fans tuning out put him over the top is hard to say. Either way, Trump, who drew 32.4 million, will have bragging rights when it comes to the ratings ― a topic he’s been gloating about all election season.
The Nielsen final numbers are based on 10 television networks between the hours of 10 p.m. to 11:45 pm. They don’t take into account live-streaming.
Among the networks, CNN drew the largest audience Thursday night, with 7.5 million total viewers and 2.8 million in the key age 25-54 demographic.
MSNBC brought in 5.3 million total viewers, while NBC News topped network rivals CBS and ABC with 4.5 million viewers.
Fox News drew just over 3 million and 785,000 in the demo, a significant drop from last week. The conservative cable news network led the pack at the Republican convention.
Though Trump edged Clinton in the ratings, her convention’s message of hope and inclusion, rather than fear and division, drew more favorable reviews in the media ― even among some prominent conservatives. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” crew gushed Friday morning over the Democrats’ framing of America’s place in the world and the unabashed patriotism on display the night before.
Co-host Joe Scarborough said the Democrats “ripped the mantle of Reagan’s optimism and spread it all over primetime” and predicted the convention would be “transformational” for the party. “Donald trump’s slogan, ‘Make America Great Again!’ gave the Democrats this entire week to say, ‘No, here’s why America is great,’” Willie Geist said. Mike Barnicle said the Democrats’ “convention this week was much more a reflection of America, the America that we all live in, than was last week in Cleveland.”
“The entire convention itself, especially as it sort of came to the crescendo last night, represented all the problems that this country is facing,” said co-host Mika Brzezinski, along with “the hope, the optimism, the principles it’s based upon.”
Trump responded Friday’s that the “little watched” MSNBC hosts’ analysis of Clinton’s speech was a “joke,” and in trademark fashion, “SAD!”