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GOPers Beat Obama in TV Ratings: Helped by Timing and NFL

Posted by: David Kiley on September 08, 2008

If TV ratings for political convention speeches is any indicator, voter turnout in November should be sky-high.

The GOP presidential nominee John McCain had a viewership last Thursday night of 39 million, edging Democratic counterpart Obama (38.4 million), and McCain’s suddenly famous running mate, Sarah Palin (37.2 million).

McCain, not known for his dynamic speech giving, may owe a debt to an old Washington institution, the Washington Redskins. The “skins were playing the Super Bowl champs New York Giants last Thursday in the NFL season opener, which gave McCain a perfect lead-in to boost his audience.

The football telecast averaged 13.6 million viewers between 8-10 PM, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Obama, whose speech in a football stadium was much hyped, gave his Thursday night speech in the week leading into Labor Day weekend, traditionally a week in which many take vacation so they can take advantage of the extra day off from work.

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Reader Comments


September 8, 2008 08:56 PM

Hello -
Another reason for the increase in viewers for McCain may also be attributed to people such as myself who only watched McCains's speech due to seeing if he was able to come even close to the power of Obama's speech. In the past, I'm sure many democrats would not normally tune in to watch a republican convention, but did this year due to Obama's speech. In
other words, McCain may also have benefited by a trickle effect from the increase of people involved in this election due to Obama.


September 8, 2008 10:46 PM

I cannot believe that no one is taking into account the potential millions of Obama viewers who watched the speech at house parties across the nation (this was part of the campaign initiative, and in pubs every where. I was in Denver and every bar and hotel lobby was filled with hundreds of people per place watching the speech, and I heard the same was true in other cities. Also many younger people watched the speech online.

From Kiley: All that is true, but very hard to capture. Personally, I think McCain speech was boosted by the football game, which ended right before his speech. And Palin had the enormous curiosity factor working for her. Too, the GOP also probably had a lot of house party and bar watching.


September 10, 2008 05:09 AM

Businessweek doing their normal spin for their Messiah aka The One aka Obama?

FACT: McCain had higher ratings than Obama because of the incredible enthusiasm and suppport that Gov Paln has generated amongst conservatives and Republicans. Over 37 million Americans watched Gov Plain which totally smoked the 24 million people that saw Joe Biden speak, and some of those same people tuned in again the next day to see John mccain in the hope that they'd get to see Gov Palin again. You gotta see how the crowds have been buzzed at Senator mccain's campiagn stops since Gov Palin joined him
Not to mention the fact that Obama's speech was carried on 4 more TV stations than Gov Palin and Senator Mccain's speeeches. BET, Univision etc carried Obama's speech, but refused to carry Senator McCain's speech, making Senator Mccain's win even more impressive.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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