Can the Democrats beat the Republicans?
In local ratings for the conventions, that is.
That’s not likely considering how strong Fox News is in the Buffalo market preaching to the converted.
The big local winners last week for the Republican Convention in Cleveland were first place Fox News and CNN, which experienced significant gains locally from 2012.
The local losers were the broadcast affiliates whose networks may have made a mistake to only schedule one hour of coverage of the Donald Trump convention in this highly-competitive and controversial presidential election year.
Considering how well the Trump-led Republican debates did this political season, the local rating gain for the convention compared to 2012 was significant but there wasn’t a huge Trump bump.
Naturally, the best night was Thursday when the Republican nominee and reality TV star addressed the convention for 75 minutes starting at around 10:15 p.m.
The six broadcast and cable news channels that carried Trump’s speech had a collective 19.0 rating points from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. (WNED-TV, the local PBS channel that doesn’t carry advertising, added an additional 1.5-2.0 rating points each night, with ratings on that channel actually higher on two nights in 2012.)
Four years earlier when Mitt Romney was the Republican nominee and the Republican Convention was held the last week of August, the six channels had a collective 15.9 rating points. However, there is an asterisk. Channel 7 joined around 10:30 p.m. after a Buffalo Bills preseason game ended. The collective percentage gain for Trump was about 20 percent on those six channels.
Fox News, which many view as an arm of the Republican Party, led the way locally Thursday with a 7.0 rating from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. when Trump’s daughter Ivanka introduced him. Interestingly, the Fox rating during Ivanka’s speech was a 7.9 and it dipped to a 6.8 by the time her father started talking. Viewership on Fox for Trump’s long speech was very consistent, though it slipped to a 6.0 at 11:15 p.m.
Four years earlier, when Romney’s ran on Aug. 30, Fox had a 5.1 rating from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. that grew to a 5.4 at 11 p.m.
The combined rating for the three broadcast affiliates from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. for Trump’s speech Thursday was 7.7, led by Channel 2’s 3.5 for NBC’s coverage.
Four years ago, the combined rating on Channel 2 and Channel 4 was a 5.4, with Channel 7 averaging a 3.6 when it joined in progress after a Buffalo Bills preseason game.
CNN had a 2.8 local rating for Trump’s speech from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. almost three times the about 1.0 rating it had for Romney’s address four years earlier.
The liberal leaning MSNBC had a 1.5 rating for Trump’s speech from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m., about double what it averaged for Romney’s speech.
Here’s a look at how the other three nights of the Trump convention compared to the 2012 convention.
Monday, July 18: There is no real comparison to 2012 because the broadcast networks didn’t carry any coverage on Monday night that year. Fox News led the way a week ago with a 5.4 local rating from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. when Trump’s wife, Melania, gave a speech that was initially praised before a plagiarism controversy. The combined rating for all six channels was 16.0.
Tuesday, July 19: The six channels had a combined 15.9 local rating from 10 p.m, to 11 p.m. on the night Chris Christie, Tiffany Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Dr. Ben Carson spoke. Four years earlier, the six channels had a combined 12.8 rating points.
Wednesday, July 20: On the night that Republican Vice President nominee Mike Pence’s speech was overshadowed by Ted Cruz’s controversial address that ended before 10 p.m. but was addressed in that hour, the six channels had a combined 14.9 points. Fox News again was No. 1, with a 6.1 rating in the hour. Four years earlier, when Vice President nominee Paul Ryan spoke, the six channels had a combined local rating of 11.8.