For the past two Democratic conventions a Clinton had the spotlight for the second night of events but the ratings story is very different.
Four years ago, NBC had nearly six million total viewers leading all networks and CNN led the cable networks with almost five million. Hillary Clinton's highly anticipated speech was one of the top spectacles for the whole summer in 2008.
This year, it's a little different. NBC didn't have the second night of the convention because the NFL began its regular season on Wednesday instead of the planned Thursday as to not interfere with President Obama's speech. According the Nielsen's fast data for the period of 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., ABC took the prize for highest ratings with 4.587 million. In cable, MSNBC for the second time ever as well as the second time this week was the top cable network with 4.511 million viewers. Fox News, who dominated all networks for the Republican convention, finished well over a million total viewers behind CNN with 3.047 million for the keynote spot.
Growth for all the networks as well as less viewers overall could have multiple factors.
Having one less network, and a top network at that, allowed audiences to diffuse to other networks and join a new network. Diffusion helps out other networks but as a whole the NFL is one of the most popular broadcasts in all of television and takes away a large audience.
The NFL season opener of the New York Giants versus the Dallas Cowboys averaged 20.2 million viewers.
This year also doesn't have the dramatic element of Hillary Clinton as much as it did in 2008. The network's set aside time was from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. in 2008 as well. This year, the convention encountered some delays and Bill Clinton's legendary ability to speak at length.
Broadcast networks extended their coverage an extra half hour so the ratings become much closer to an apples-to-oranges comparison because the times are different.
Measuring the same amount of time between 2008 and 2012 would mean missing large portions of Bill Clinton's speech. Networks have harder and harder experiences holding onto audiences as nights become later.
As with the Republican convention last week, this year is not 2008 for the Democrats either. 26 million viewers tuned into Hillary Clinton in 2008. Democrats can take comfort in that the second day of the convention, even with football and time delays, still had a larger audience than the Republicans'. For night two, the Democratic one had 20.622 million to the Republicans 20.049 million.