Newspaper article International New York Times

Convention Falls Short of Ratings Hopes

Newspaper article International New York Times

Convention Falls Short of Ratings Hopes

Article excerpt

Television producers grumbled throughout the week about the less- than-ideal spectacle, with relatively unknown speakers appearing in the prime hour.

Television is Donald J. Trump's comfort zone, the medium where he ruled as master of "The Apprentice," lured record audiences to Republican primary debates, and deftly outmaneuvered opponents with his camera-ready skills.

For politicos and producers alike, the Republican National Convention last week was widely anticipated as a ratings bonanza.

It did not live up to the hype. About 32 million Americans watched Mr. Trump's climactic acceptance speech on Thursday evening on the major cable news and broadcast channels, according to ratings from Nielsen, released on Friday.

Mr. Trump's remarks, at an hour and 15 minutes the longest in modern convention history, just beat out those of the previous Republican nominee, the decidedly less unpredictable Mitt Romney, who was seen by about 1.9 million fewer viewers when he addressed the party's convention four years ago. Viewership throughout the convention week was about the same as in 2012.

In the past four years, many Americans have turned to less traditional means to watch televised events, including YouTube, Facebook and live streams widely available around the web.

But the 2016 race, with its unlikely cast of candidates and dramatic twists, had been attracting record audiences to cable news networks for the past year. The 19.8 million viewers who watched the Republican convention on Tuesday, across all the major news networks, was notably less than the 24 million who tuned in for the first Republican primary debate on Fox News last August.

In Cleveland, television producers grumbled about the less-than- optimal spectacle put on by the Trump campaign. Relatively unknown speakers appeared in the prime 10 p.m. hour, when the broadcast networks go live, while appealing figures like Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa were bumped. Strange pauses in the action left anchors scrambling to fill time. …

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