The first night of the Republican National Convention averaged 15.9 million viewers on Monday, a sharp drop of 28% from 2016.
The audience figure from Nielsen was also below the opening night of last week’s Democratic National Convention which averaged 18.7 million viewers over the three major English language broadcast networks and three leading cable news channels. The audience for the Democrats on the first night of their convention was also down about 28% from 2016.
With additional channels added, the final total was 19.7 million for the Democrats on Aug. 17. A total for coverage of the Republicans’ proceedings on Monday will be issued later today.
Fox News was the most watched channel for coverage between 10 and 11 p.m. Eastern, with an average of 7.1 million viewers, followed by CNN (2 million), ABC (1.97 million), NBC (1.7 million), MSNBC (1.6 million) and CBS (1.5 million).
For the conservative leaning Fox News, it was the largest audience for opening night convention coverage ever for a cable news network.
Fox News, regularly the prime-time destination for Trump fans who tune in to see the president’s chief media supporter Sean Hannity, routinely leads in the ratings during Republican convention weeks.
“Hannity,” which aired at 9 p.m. Eastern, averaged 6.8 million viewers, the second largest audience ever for the program.
Coverage was also carried on PBS, Fox Business Network and Newsy.
The decline from 2016, when Trump was first nominated, is comparable to what the Democratic convention experienced last week. The cancellation of most live events at the convention sites changed the nature of the events to a series of virtual speeches.
The drop can also be attributed to the continued decline in television usage especially among viewers under age 50.
The Democratic National Committee said there was an increase in the number of people watching convention events on streaming platforms — with 35 million live video streams across four nights.
The ratings for cable news coverage reflected the political bent of the channels’ prime-time viewers. MSNBC, with its lineup of progressive opinion hosts, was the most-watched network for Democratic National Convention coverage last week.