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Night 1 of Republican convention mirrors Democratic convention’s TV ratings decline

The opening night of the Republican National Convention on Monday drew about 17 million TV viewers, a drop of 26 percent compared to the same convention in 2016, according to data from the media measurement company Nielsen.

The decline mirrors that of the first night of the Democratic National Convention, which attracted 19.7 million viewers — a decline of about 24 percent from the opening of the same convention four years ago.

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Fox News logged the largest audience for the 10 p.m. ET hour, with an average of 7.1 million viewers, easily besting CNN and ABC, which each drew about 2 million viewers. NBC and MSNBC attracted 1.7 million and 1.6 million, respectively. CBS had 1.5 million.

NBCUniversal is the parent company of MSNBC and NBC News.

Viewership for the DNC climbed for the third and fourth nights, with 24.6 million people estimated to have tuned in for the final night, according to Nielsen data. That was still down by 17 percent compared to the fourth night of the 2016 Democratic convention.

The broad decline in TV viewership may have been balanced in part by an increase in online viewership. TJ Ducklo, national press secretary for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, tweeted last week that the first night of the Democratic convention broke a record for digital streams, with 10.2 million.

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Not all demographic groups are tuning out. While viewership for the Democratic convention dropped significantly among people ages 18 to 34 — a group that is broadly watching less TV — people 55 and older held steady and increased on some nights of the convention.

Image: Jason AbbruzzeseJason Abbruzzese

Jason Abbruzzese is the senior editor for technology news at NBC News Digital.

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