The ‘Big’ Ratings Trump Bragged About for His RNC Speech Were Actually Not That Big

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Republican National Convention: Day Four
Photo: Win McNamee

Donald Trump took to Twitter Friday to brag about the “big” ratings for the Republican National Convention, but — shocker!— that’s not quite right. According to preliminary Nielsen data, about 32.8 million viewers across seven networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC) watched Trump’s 75-minute acceptance speech between 10 p.m. and around 11:15 p.m. (Fox News was the most popular place to watch.) It’s likely the final tally will go up once Nielsen reports final numbers, but as of now that figure is only slightly better than the disappointing 30.3 million viewers who watched Mitt Romey’s big speech in 2012 — and well below the 41 million or so who caught John McCain’s 2008 victory lap.

To be sure, these are not completely apples-to-apples comparisons. TV viewing is much more fragmented now than it was even four years ago, and a decent number of viewers may have streamed the speech (options less popular in 2012 and 2008). On the other hand, there are more potential viewers now than four or eight years ago, due to population growth. However you parse the data, what does seem clear is than the big ratings surge Trump brought to the Republican debates last fall and winter seems to have dissipated. Bottom line: There’s absolutely nothing for Trump to be embarrassed about with these ratings — and it wouldn’t be shocking for his speech to end up outdrawing Hillary Clinton’s next week — but there’s also nothing all that big league about them either.