Steve August 26, 2020

First Lady Melania Trump’s speech from the White House Rose Garden lifted the TV audience for the Republican National Convention to 18 million viewers, an improvement over the opening night.

Early data from Nielsen across the three broadcast networks and three major cable news channels are up 13% from the comparable figure of 15.9 million for Monday. Viewing from additional networks on Monday brought the final total up to 17 million.

In 2016, the first time Republicans nominated Tweety McTreason, the audience for the second night of the convention was 19.8 million, the smallest audience of the week for the event.

The audience for the second night of the Democratic National Convention held last week was 19.2 million viewers. Over four nights, the DNC’s presentation averaged 21.6 million viewers.

Since 1960, the Democratic convention has scored higher ratings than the Republicans in all but four of the last 15 presidential campaign cycles. The ratings have not been an indicator of success in the presidential election — the party with the most watched convention has won the the White House in seven of those races.

But the Republicans’ improvement on the second night should please Trump, a close watcher of the Nielsen ratings since his days as host of the NBC reality show “The Apprentice.”

Fox News was the most watched channel for coverage between 10 and 11:15 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, with an average of 7.9 million viewers, followed by NBC (2.5 million), CNN (2.12 million), ABC (2.09 million), MSNBC (1.9 million) and CBS (1.5 million).

Coverage also ran on several other networks, including Fox Business Network, Newsy and PBS. Nielsen will issue a final total that includes those networks later today.

Along with the first lady, speakers in the hour included Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, Kentucky Atty. Gen. Daniel Cameron, and Trump’s son Eric.

The hour also included Trump participating in a naturalization ceremony with several immigrants held at the White House.

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