Fox News Channel’s 10 to 11-ish p.m. coverage of Clint Eastwood’s debate with a chair — followed by Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech — was the country’s second-most-watched TV program last week.
Romney, Eastwood & Chair finished the week trailing only Howard Stern & “America’s Got Talent” on NBC; the telecasts averaged 9.1 million viewers and 9.9 million viewers, respectively.
But FNC wasn’t the only network that brought you Chair, Dotty Harry & Romney; the Republican National Convention coverage was available on at least 11 television networks, which collectively averaged 30.3 million viewers from 10 to 11-ish Thursday, according to Nielsen, beating four nights of NBC’s London Summer Olympic Games coverage on NBC in the final hour of prime time.
(Nielsen ratings include numbers for ABC, CBS, CNN, FNC, CurrentTV, MSNBC, mun2, NBC, PBS and Univision; C-Span is not rated).
The political conventions might not be what they used to be, but in a summer of flat-lining ratings, the RNC was, relatively speaking, Must See TV.
Fox News Channel’s RNC coverage accounted for three of the week’s top 10 TV prime-time programs in the country. Its Wednesday 10 to 11-ish coverage of vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s speech (7.7 million viewers) ranked sixth; Tuesday’s 10 to 11-ish coverage of Ann Romney’s address (6.9 million) ranked eighth.
One week after cleaning up with the Republican convention, FNC got hammered on the first night of the Democratic convention, when the 10 p.m.-hour headliner was first lady Michelle Obama. Yes, FNC’s average audience of 2.4 million at 10 was a bigger haul than any night of RNC coverage on, say, CNN. But FNC still finished well behind Tuesday’s pack leader NBC, as well as MSNBC, CNN, CBS and ABC. Yes, once again, the TV audience is seriously polarized during the election cycle, with TV news now Affirmation TV.
Based on early numbers, it appears that the first night of the DNC starring Michelle Obama attracted more viewers than the first night of the RNC featuring Ann Romney. Collectively across the above-mentioned six networks, Tuesday’s DNC averaged just less than 23 million folks. Nielsen says the first night of the RNC averaged 22.3 million at 10, and it’s also including Current TV and PBS — two networks whose DNC numbers were not available at press time.
NBC announced Wednesday that instead of the the planned repeat of “America’s Got Talent,” it will take three consecutive nights to launch the first fall season of “The Voice.”
The network will add a third night of the singing competition series next Wednesday at 8.
That, of course, means that “The Voice’s” third night will air in the teeth of Fox’s return of its new and improved, or at least tarted-up-with-Brit-Brit-and-Demi, “X Factor.”
“The Voice’s” additional night of chair-swiveling blind auditions joins the previously scheduled season debut next Monday and Tuesday.
NBC said that it had “fashioned the fall season premiere of ‘The Voice’ into a three-night event.” In rough numbers, that means:
a.) The network would love to take a chunk of viewers away from the relaunch of “X Factor,” which reportedly coughed up $15 million for Britney Spears alone, not to mention Demi Lovato. That came after deciding that Paula Abdul and Nicole Scherzinger were among the reasons the show failed to open with the 20 million viewers that its creator and star, Simon Cowell, had promised. (The other reason apparently was show host Steve Jones, who is also gone.)
b.) After also coughing up $15 million to buy Howard Stern’s services, “America’s Got Talent” is averaging nearly 19 percent fewer viewers than last summer, and presumably an original episode of “The Voice” will provide a bigger lead-in audience for the season’s penultimate “AGT” episode than the scheduled repeat “AGT” episode would have.
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.