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Two-Thirds Of U.S. Households Tuned In To Dems’ and GOP’s Conventions
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Two-Thirds Of U.S. Households Tuned In To Dems’ and GOP’s Conventions

It’s one of the few points not up for debate this election season: TV coverage of the typically uneventful U.S. political conventions drew record-breaking audiences. 

Nearly two-thirds of all U.S. households (64.5%) — 120.1 million people age two or older — watched at least one of the 2008 political conventions, according to a new analysis released Thursday by Nielsen. 

Viewership levels for the Democratic and Republican conventions were essentially even, with about half of all U.S. households watching each.  Overall, 15% of all homes tuned in to the Republican National Convention only, while 15.7% tuned in to just the Democratic National Convention.  Another 33.9% of all households tuned in to both conventions.

Homes that watched both conventions were likely to be older (age 65+) and better educated (32.3% had college degrees) than viewers who watched only one of the conventions. 

RNC-only households were usually bigger (four people or more), had higher incomes ($100,000+), and were more likely to be white, while DNC-only households were smaller (two people), less wealthy ($20,000 or less), and more likely to be African American.

One-fifth (21.2%) of DNC-only homes were headed by an African American, while 83.5% of RNC-only homes were headed someone who is white.

Similar percentages of African American and white viewers tuned in to both conventions (35.7% and 34.5%, respectively).  Among African Americans, 27.4% watched only the DNC, and only 8.1% watched only the RNC.  Meanwhile, 16.2% of white viewers watched the RNC only, and 13.6% watched the DNC only.

Read the full report — and stay tuned during the presidential debates for more Nielsen TV audience analyses.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings in the Baltimore Sun, The Boston Globe, Broadcasting & Cable, and Multichannel News.