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35 million TV viewers watch Donald Trump's acceptance speech at GOP convention

35 million TV viewers watch Donald Trump's acceptance speech at GOP convention
Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention on Thursday night in Cleveland. (Getty)

Nearly 35 million TV viewers watched GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump's acceptance speech Thursday night at the Republican National Convention.

Nielsen reported that an average of 32.2 million viewers watched across the ad-supported networks that carried the speech between 10 and 11:45 p.m. ET. An additional 2.65 million viewers were tuned in on PBS from 10 to 11:30 p.m. ET.

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Trump's acceptance speech scored better than the 30.3 million viewers who watched Mitt Romney's address on the commercial networks in 2012. But it was below the 38.9 million viewers for John McCain in 2008.

However, Trump's speech likely had a significant number of viewers who watched online, as streaming video has become common since the last presidential election.

The length of Trump's speech may also have depressed the TV ratings, as his 75-minute stem-winder was the longest convention speech by a candidate in at least 44 years.

As has been the case for the last two Republican conventions, Fox News Channel had the most viewers — 9.35 million in the 10 p.m.-11:45 p.m. ET time slot, when speeches by Trump and his daughter Ivanka were carried across all of the cable news and broadcast networks. CNN followed with 5.476 million viewers, leading broadcast networks NBC (4.587 million), ABC (3.861 million) and CBS (3.8 million). NBC's cable news outlet, MSNBC, averaged 2.95 million viewers.

Trump has been a ratings magnet for cable news throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, and that trend continued Thursday.

CNN appeared to benefit most, scoring its largest viewership for Republican National Convention coverage. Compared to the final night of the 2012 GOP gathering, CNN's prime-time audience was up 161% to 4.32 million. In the 25-54 age group that advertisers seek to reach with news programming, CNN averaged 1.375 million viewers, up 137%.

Fox News Channel, which saw the resignation of longtime chief executive Roger Ailes late Thursday afternoon, averaged 7.18 million viewers in prime time, up 9% from 2012. Fox News averaged 9.7 million viewers from 10 to 11 p.m. ET, making it the most-watched hour of convention coverage in its history.

Fox also led in the 25-54 demographic, with 1.73 million viewers, up 6% from 2012.

MSNBC also saw gains of more than 50% over 2012, averaging 2.4 million viewers, with 716,000 in the 25-54 category.

Twitter: @SteveBattaglio

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