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Fox News gets a third of GOP convention viewers

August 30, 2012|By James Rainey
  • Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, and his running mate, Paul D. Ryan, arrive for a sound check in Tampa, Fla.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, left, and his running… (Jewel Samad / AFP / Getty…)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Paul Ryan’s speech Wednesday night at the Republican National Convention drew about 20 million viewers in total for the three broadcast networks and the big cable television stations, a solid audience for most programs but much smaller than the 37.2 million who tuned in for the unveiling four years ago of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

So Ryan may not be the instant star the controversial Alaska governor was, plucked from relative obscurity four years ago by Republican nominee John McCain and launched into instant pop icon status with her homey bromides and taunts of the left.

A fascinating subplot of the this year's GOP convention has been following where viewers are turning to get their television news about Tampa 2012. The big leader on the first nights of the convention has been Fox News.

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There now appear to be two camps — those who watch Fox News, with its conservative viewpoint, and those who tune into all the other channels, ranging from persistently liberal MSNBC to the less ideological CNN and broadcast networks.

Politics Now did not have complete numbers for Wednesday night, but for Tuesday — when Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey headlined prime time — Fox’s average audience led the pack, with 6.9 million total viewers.

NBC came in at No. 2 with a 5.4 million average, followed by CBS (3.3 million), ABC (2.3 million), MSNBC (1.5 million) and CNN (1.5 million). The viewership on those five outlets totaled 14 million for the first night of the GOP convention. (Those totals do not include PBS and C-SPAN.)

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Proportionally speaking, Fox News’ nearly 7 million amounted to about one-third of the audience, while its multiple competitors cumulatively drew about two-thirds — though that “everybody else” category would expand if public television and C-SPAN’s audiences were thrown into the mix.

Fox controls an outsize share of the audience when it comes to this week’s convention in Tampa. The vast majority of Americans, though, still turn to a range of other television options. It will be interesting to see how the audience shares shift, if at all, for next week’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

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James.rainey@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimesrainey

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