Opinion: Barack Obama’s infomercial draws an impressive audience


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(UPDATE: See below.)

One-fifth of households in the nation’s top television markets tuned in to watch Barack Obama‘s 30-minute political infomerical last night, Nielsen Media Research reported today.

Obama’s ad, which ran live on CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision and MSNBC, was watched by 21.7% of households in the top 56 local markets, Nielsen said. That’s a little more than half the audience that watched the final debate between Obama and his opponent John McCain earlier this month.

The city with the highest rate of people tuning into Obama’s commercial was Baltimore, where 31.3% of households watched. What is it about Baltimore and this election? As the Ticket noted earlier this month, the city’s residents seem to be showing unusually high interest in campaign-related television.


In Los Angeles, 21.3% of households tuned into Obama’s ad.

For more on the numbers, and to see how Obama’s audience compared with those of 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot’s prime-time telecasts, check out Matea Gold’s post over at the Show Tracker blog.

(UPDATE: Nielsen has announced that 33.5 million people watched Obama’s infomercial. On an average Wednesday night at 8 p.m., CBS, FOX, NBC, Univision, BET, MSNBC, draw a combined average of 30.3 million viewers.

(Also Thursday night in his Tonight Show monologue Jay Leno noted that Obama’s infomercial was the highest-rated show on NBC last night. Leno claimed his network was already talking to the candidate about 13 more episodes.)

-- Kate Linthicum

Paul J. Richards / AFP/Getty Images