We noted on Monday that convention viewership had slipped pretty consistently until 2008, when numbers tracked by Nielsen jumped back up.
The spike for the Democratic convention was probably to see how Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama resolved their tension. The spike for the Republicans was in part because of someone no one knew: Sarah Palin. She spoke on the second-to-last day, as is now customary, with John McCain, the nominee, speaking on the last day.
But both that year and in 2012, the first of the four-day Republican conventions was canceled due to hurricanes. That makes comparisons with this year a bit iffy, but with new Nielsen data in hand, we can try.
In terms of viewers, the first night this year was bigger than the first nights in 2008 and 2012, with 23 million people tuning in. But the second night was smaller than the third-to-last days in 2008 and 2012 -- which were also the first days.
The population of the country has grown since 2012, but considered as a fraction of American televisions (the traditional Nielsen rating) there's not much difference.
It's hard to compare Nights One and Two from 2016 to Night One from the past two conventions. But it's clear that, so far, the non-showbiz conventions that nominated McCain and Mitt Romney didn't do much worse than Trump's flashy one. It also seems clear that America will not be as compelled to tune in and learn about Mike Pence as they were to meet Palin.