Day one of the Republican National Convention was a mixed bag in terms of ratings, with almost six times more viewers tuning in to C-SPAN’s livestream than did so for the Democrat convention last week, but fewer people watching on television.
Primetime and cable news ratings for the RNC were about 15.9 million viewers for Monday’s speeches, about 2.2 million less than watched the first night of the DNC.
It was an identical 28% drop in viewership from the 2016 RNC as what Democrats saw between their 2016 and 2020 conventions. Factors such as fewer Americans having cable television in their homes may account for some of the decline in television viewership of both conventions.
Full livestream ratings were not yet available for the RNC’s day one events, but the C-SPAN numbers suggest that ratings could be much higher online than on TV.
TV coverage of RNC causing headaches
Fox News viewership during the 10 p.m. hour of convention speeches beat out combined viewers from CNN, NBC, CBS and ABC. About 7.06 million viewers tuned into that hour.
Fox News coverage was seen as problematic for some viewers, however, because of the critical commentary offered during the speeches. After praising the Democrat convention several times last week, anchor Chris Wallace disparagingly said that the RNC was “the Trump convention” when Trump unexpectedly made some remarks and his son Donald Trump Jr. was a scheduled speaker.
Republicans also complained about MSNBC and CNN fact-checking the convention speeches in real-time, something they did not do during DNC speeches last week.
Fox News host Laura Ingraham tweeted about the apparent double standard.
MSNBC is fact-checking the GOP speakers in real time. Why didn’t they do same last week for the DNC?
— Laura Ingraham (@IngrahamAngle) August 25, 2020
With the major cable channels interrupting speeches to offer their comments, it’s possible that many viewers decided to go straight to the livestream in annoyance.
Trump approval stable, will he get a convention bounce?
Polls showed that Trump’s approval rating was stable ahead of the convention. With Biden failing to get a bounce after the Democrat convention, it will be interesting to see what kind of bounce Trump gets from his convention, if any.
Biden seems to be having some trouble garnering enthusiasm for his ticket, and his choice of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) as a running mate did not seem to help him much in that regard.