Ratings for the first night of the 2020 Republican National Convention trailed the Democrats’ opening festivities — with far less people tuning into both virtual celebrations overall compared to the in-person, high-energy extravaganzas of 2016.
Networks CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN averaged 15.9 million viewers on Monday during the overlapping hour of GOP kickoff coverage beginning at 10 p.m., according to Nielsen figures published by the Los Angeles Times.
That figure was 17 percent higher for night one of the Democratic National Convention, which drew in 18.7 million people on those channels.
Fox News was by far the most watched cable channel on Monday evening, pulling in 7 million viewers and besting liberal rivals CNN, ABC and NBC, which followed with 2 million, 1.9 million and 1.7 million, respectively.
But both of those overall figures represent a big plunge in the ratings from the opening nights of 2016, when thousands of delegates packed into convention halls in Philadelphia and Cleveland to crown Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton their parties’ nominees.
Network viewership of the opening Democratic convention festivities plunged 28 percent from 2016, with less people interested in the pre-taped and low-energy speeches from people’s homes.
According to Nielsen, the audience for the Republicans on the first night of their celebration also fell 28 percent from 2016.
Still, the 7 million ratings haul for Fox News created a new record for the most-watched convention coverage in cable news history.
Sean Hannity, the network’s most influential face, also saw his second-highest total views in Fox News history, with 6.8 million people tuning in for his 9 p.m. primetime show “Hannity.”
Fox also smoked the competition in the important 25-54 demographic, which is the most valued age group by advertisers.
According to Neilsen figures, 1.5 million viewers in this age group watched Fox News’ coverage of the GOP convention.
The network’s more liberal competitor CNN trailed with 606,000 people while MSNBC pulled in just 308,000 viewers aged between 25 and 54.
These figures do not include digital streaming, which has grown substantially in the past four years. It’s therefore unclear how much online streaming and mobile devices affected those numbers as TV viewing habits change and are not factored into traditional ratings.
On C-SPAN’s livestream, the number of people watching Monday night’s GOP bash was six times higher than the viewership for Democrats.
Approximately 440,000 people tuned in to watch the first night of the virtual GOP convention on C-SPAN’s online livestream Monday, compared to just 76,000 views for the first night of the DNC.
One of the most viral highlights from the RNC kickoff was an impassioned broadside from Don Jr.’s girlfriend, Trump campaign adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle, which immediately went viral on social media after she suggested a vote for Joe Biden would lead to socialism in America.