21.7% Of Households In Top Local TV Markets Watched Obama Infomercial

21.7% Of Households In Top Local TV Markets Watched Obama Infomercial

The combined overall household rating for Senator Barack Obama’s Wednesday night infomercial, in the top 56 local television markets where Nielsen maintains electronic TV meters, was 21.7.

Obama’s simulcast is the first to be aired by a presidential candidate since Ross Perot ran a political telecast on the eve of Election Day in 1996.  That program was watched by 16.8% of all households nationwide.

Ross Perot also ran a series of 15 political telecasts during the 1992 presidential election.

In comparison, the final debate between the two presidential candidates received a 38.3 household rating in the top 56 local TV markets.  The candidates’ first debate on September 26 received a 34.7 household rating in the top 55 markets; their second debate, on October 7, received a 42.0 household rating in those markets.

Among the top 56 local metered markets, the Baltimore market had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 31.3, while the Portland market had the lowest household rating: 14.2.

One rating point equals 1% of the total TV households in a given market.


(by H.H. rating)

Market Market Rank

(by population size)

Household Rating

(% of U.S. households

that watched debate)

1 Baltimore 26 31.3
2 Philadelphia 4 29.0
3 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 38 28.0
4 Nashville 29 27.3
5 Greensboro-H.Point-W.Salem 46 27.2
6 St. Louis 21 27.1
7 Washington, DC (Hagrstwn) 9 26.8
8 New York 1 26.2
9 Boston (Manchester) 7 25.7
10 Hartford & New Haven 30 25.1
Source: The Nielsen Company (October 29, 2008).

View ratings for Nielsen’s 56 top local metered markets.

Obama’s infomercial aired live on CBS, NBC, FOX, UNIVISION, MSNBC, and NY1 Wednesday night.  This data does not include ratings from BET, which aired the infomercial during different time periods.

National ratings for the infomercial will be available from Nielsen Thursday afternoon.