Palin Triggers RNC Ratings Spike

Palin Triggers RNC Ratings Spike

More than 37.2 million people tuned in for coverage of the third night of the 2008 Republican National Convention, which featured Sarah Palin’s much anticipated national debut. 

Wednesday night’s RNC broadcasts attracted just a 1.1 million fewer viewers than Barack Obama’s record-breaking speech on day four of the Democratic convention. 

Coverage of day three of the GOP convention drew a large female audience (19.5 million) — 5.2 million more women than tuned in for day two of the Democratic convention, when Hillary Clinton addressed the delegates, and 6.9 million more women than watched Joe Biden accept the Democrats’ vice presidential nomination last Wednesday night.

Viewers age 55 and older also continued to dominate the RNC’s TV audience, with 25.2% of all Americans in that age group — 17.9 million people — watching Wednesday night’s coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC.

  Rating Number
All Households 23.5 26,933,000
Persons 2+ 12.9 37,244,000
Women 18+ 16.8 19,511,000
Men 18+ 15.2 16,426,000
Persons 12-17 2.2 557,000
Persons 18-34 8.1 5,459,000
Persons 18-49 10.7 14,119,000
Persons 55+ 25.2 17,920,000
African American Persons 2+ * 8.2 3,011,000
Hispanic Persons 2+ * 3.2 1,377,000
White Persons 2+ * 15.0 31,905,000
Source: The Nielsen Company (September 3, 2008)
Figures are the sum of the networks during the common hour of coverage. Included networks are ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC.
*Ratings for African American, Hispanic, and White viewers show the percent of African American, Hispanic, and White persons age two and older in TV homes watching the convention coverage.

The TV audience for day three of the 2008 GOP convention was significantly larger (+99%) than the audience for the same night during the 2004 convention, which drew 18.7 million viewers.

On Wednesday, September 3, 2008, convention coverage varied by network, with all six networks noted above airing live coverage from approximately 10pm to 11:15pm EST.

View the full media alert.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings in the Los Angeles Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Boston Herald, and on the BBC’s website and