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Football gives Bill Clinton tough competition in TV ratings race

By Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — The crowd may have loved Bubba, but he was no match for football.

Former President Bill Clinton gave a rousing, 45-minute oration on behalf of President Obama Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention, which was carried live on multiple networks, including ABC and CBS, as well as the cable news outlets.

But the initial ratings were less than thrilling: ABC and CBS each drew fewer than 4 million total viewers with their 10 p.m. EDT coverage of the convention, which included part of Clinton’s speech (which ran somewhat longer than its alloted time). Those numbers were roughly on par with the network’s totals during the comparable night at the DNC in 2008. CBS actually lost audience compared with the lead-in, a repeat of “Criminal Minds.”

One reason for the low tally: competition. NBC stayed away from the convention and instead aired the NFL regular season kickoff game, featuring the Dallas Cowboys against defending Super Bowl champs the New York Giants. Including the pregame special, the game averaged 20.6 million viewers for the night, according to early numbers from Nielsen.

However, it’s still too early to have a final picture of the night’s ratings. Numbers for MSNBC, CNN and Fox News will be reported later Thursday. On Tuesday night’s 10 p.m. convention coverage, those three networks collectively delivered more than 10 million viewers.

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