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First night of DNC bests RNC in TV ratings race

First Published Sep 05 2012 08:52 pm • Last Updated Sep 05 2012 08:52 pm

New York • Michelle Obama has bragging rights over Ann Romney in one early measurement — television ratings.

The Nielsen Co. said about 26.2 million people watched the opening night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday in Charlotte, N.C., where the first lady was the featured speaker.

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Last week, Nielsen said 22.3 million watched the first night of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., where potential first lady Ann Romney talked about her husband, Mitt. The same number of viewers watched the Democrats’ first night in 2008, when Michelle Obama was also the featured speaker.

NBC was the most popular network during the 10 p.m. ET hour on Tuesday, with just over 5 million viewers. CBS had 3.27 million and ABC had 3.24 million, Nielsen said. PBS, which broadcast throughout prime time, had 3.8 million viewers during the 10 p.m. hour.

Cable television ratings indicate the degree to which viewers seek ideological comfort zones. Fox News Channel, which has shows that appeal to conservatives, had the smallest audience of the three cable news and three broadcast networks, with 2.4 million viewers. During opening night of last week’s GOP convention, Fox topped everyone with 6.9 million, or nearly three times as many people.

The left-leaning MSNBC had 4.1 million viewers on Monday, up sharply from the 1.5 million viewers who watched the network cover the first night of the GOP. It’s also nearly twice the audience MSNBC had four years ago, when the network was less partisan.

CNN seeks to be nonpartisan, but it also is more popular with Democrats. Its Tuesday audience of 3.89 million more than doubled CNN’s coverage of opening night in Tampa last week (1.5 million).

Michelle Obama was a big hit Monday in a measurement by the social media network Twitter. The company said she was responsible for at least 28,003 tweets per minute shortly after she delivered her speech.

By contrast, the peak moment at the GOP convention was 14,289 tweets per minute during Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech, Twitter said. Ann Romney’s peak was 6,195 per minute, said Elaine Filadelo, Twitter spokeswoman. The company measures the volume of tweets through the use of hashtags, names and phrases, so it’s possible the number could be larger in all cases.

It’s not exactly clear why Michelle Obama’s tweet volume was so much higher than any of the Republicans. The first lady is better known and active on Twitter herself, Filadelo said. The White House also released a photo of President Barack Obama watching his wife talk along with their two daughters, which was frequently re-tweeted.

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