Despite President Donald Trump’s obsession with putting on spectacles in an attempt to garner high television ratings — which he even concerned himself with while conducting press conferences amidst some of the original heights of the Coronavirus pandemic — the opening night of the Republican National Convention (RNC) reportedly garnered lower television ratings across major tv networks than the opening night of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), which took place last week. The RNC started on Monday, featuring remarks from figures like Donald Trump Jr., Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, and others.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the opening night of the RNC “averaged 15.9 million viewers… a sharp drop of 28% from 2016.” That total is for viewers across the broadcast channels ABC, CBS, NBC and the cable channels Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. Across that same slew of networks, the opening night of the DNC “averaged 18.7 million viewers,” which, although also lower than its own 2016 level of television viewership, still ended up higher than the RNC’s estimated number of television viewers.
The Times adds that “[with] additional channels added, the final total was 19.7 million for the Democrats on Aug. 17.” As for the RNC, Fox unsurprisingly led the way in terms of the number of total viewers. The network garnered an average of 7.1 million viewers for the night. The second-place network, CNN, was pretty far behind Fox — it averaged 2 million viewers, according to the Nielsen data reported on by the Times. Apparently, for Fox, their audience total “was the largest audience for convention coverage ever for a cable news network,” but since the overall total of viewers across all networks was lower, the number seems to represent more and more of the GOP coalescing around an isolating ideological stance as opposed to some kind of grand new frontier for Republican politics.
It’s worth noting — television networks of both the broadcast and cable varieties definitely weren’t the only ways that folks could watch convention coverage recently. The DNC reported “35 million live video streams across four nights,” the Times notes. Notably enough, the RNC did succeed in one meager measure of viewership — supposedly, they drew in about 440,000 views on the C-SPAN livestream of the first night. The DNC’s first night’s livestream supposedly drew in some 76,000 views. Views on a web broadcast seem significantly less definitive than television views, though — the same person can be responsible for multiple web views, for instance.
The first night of the RNC was full of many outright lies, as fact-checks from outlets like CNN outlined. CNN characterized the Republican proceedings as “a parade of dishonesty, in stark contrast with last week’s Democratic convention.”
The lies ranged from the lie that Democrats as a whole want to lead a government takeover of health care to the lie that Democrats want to “abolish” suburbs, which is just a ludicrous claim. Patricia McCloskey — who recently became infamous for threatening peaceful protesters with a gun in St. Louis — claimed during the convention that Democrats “want to abolish the suburbs altogether by ending single-family home zoning,” which is just not true. It’s a lie — and one of many.