October 30th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama ad a ratings success

Obama's 30 minute ad was watched by nearly 30 million people.
Obama's 30 minute ad was watched by nearly 30 million people.

(CNN) - The major networks may just wish Barack Obama took up more airtime after taking a look at the ratings for the Democratic presidential candidate's 30-minute infomercial Wednesday night.

According to preliminary ratings numbers from the networks, more than 26 million people watched the program on CBS, NBC or Fox. That's 3 million more than usually watch those networks at that hour, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Averaging in the cable networks that also carried the event, about 30 million people in all saw the long-form campaign ad.

The ad was most watched on NBC, where nearly 10 million viewers tuned in. More than 8.5 million watched on CBS while just under 8 million viewed the program on Fox. On average, about 7 million people usually tune into each network at that hour.

Overall, according to Nielsen, for the six networks that aired the infomercial simultaneously, it scored a household rating of nearly 22 percent - meaning 22 percent of all households watching television at that hour tuned into the spot. That compares to the 38.3 household rating the last presidential debate scored.

Obama's combined audience beat the highest rated television show last week: CBS' CSI drew about 20 million viewers. It also drew more than double the viewers the average World Series game this year did.

But even if viewers didn't catch the spot when it first aired, clips of the program have repeatedly been broadcast across the cable news chanels Thursday, maximizing the Illinois senator's exposure in the crucial remaining days before Election Day.

"The strategic brilliance of this for Obama is that he is going to consume about 24 hours of the news cycle," Evan Tracey of Campaign Media Analysis Group said. "It boxes [John] McCain in, takes the oxygen out of the room."

It's unclear exactly how much the Obama campaign spent on the commercial in total, but estimates put the cost at least $3.5 million.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (638 Responses)
  1. Douglas, Los Angeles California

    I loved the program and thought it was very well done. My friends and I were getting teared up during the show. We were all voting for Obama anyway, but the way he explained his policies and outlook really sealed the deal. I was very pleased to see my donation dollars at work, very well spent!

    October 30, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. nerakami

    John McCain has run one of the most dysfunctional campaigns in modern history. It is the litmus test of how he would govern this nation...
    chaotic, erratic, unfocused not to mention, full of in-fighting.

    Haven't we had enough incompetent Presidents to last us a lifetime?
    Why in God's name would we choose another?

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  3. mccain is a liar

    Chuck, Tennessee

    Look at your own guy. every word that comes out of his mouth is a lie. I guess its ok because he was a POW. By the way why are his records sealed? Could it have anything to do with that person he killed in '64

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  4. Veteran for Obama

    I watched the lady who had to ration her food out in sections of her refrigerator. The family knew what was there had to last until the next pay day. A lot of us have been there or have been close to being there.
    Obama offers hope of rising above that existence.
    Folks in that situation don't need a handout. They need a hand. They need a job that pays enough to stock the refrigerator with something left over for that emergency that always comes before payday ever does.
    The big bucks spent on the infomercial were an investment on that kind of future. Please vote for Obama and give him a chance to help folks get back to self sufficiency and the dignity and pride that go along with it.
    Bring Back the American Dream.

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  5. Oregon calling

    It brought tears to my eyes and a wish to do more for my fellow person. I also had my 12 year old daughter watch with me and although she is ready, as am I, for this to be over, she also had tears.

    VOTE AMERICA!!!!!!!!

    Obama / Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  6. Obama for President

    Obama For President!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Enough Said!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  7. 2008 Election

    Whoooo Hooooo

    We have Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore campaiging for Obama. Thank you for your support....Whose next...

    Let's get out and Vote, It ain't over...the race is still on. Common folks, this is our year to get this country back on track. The Republicans had it for 8 years and we are in such turmoil...I do not think they deserve another 4 more years. All the BS/lies, let it go through one ear and come out the other...let's not waste our energy and breaths on these individuals...all we need to do is Vote and get others to do the same.

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  8. Bill - Ann Arbor, MI

    Amount of $$$ being spent on ads is CRAZY but keep in mind that is $$$ going back into the economy too! Wages, overtime & bonuses for those who work in the ad industry or with the campaigns and those people will in turn go out & spend that $$$ or invest it. I do wish Obama & McCain would ask the places they advertise with to donate a portion to charities though..
    Bill – Ann Arbor, MI

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  9. Response To Go Sarah!

    Doesn't take Palin to figure that out!

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Lance

    Buy as many votes as you can BO you will need it!

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. DX in TX

    Barack Obama has earned the right to be the president of this great country. He has run an intelligent campaign. I sincerely believe that he cares about the American people. There have been several times he could have attack John McCain, but instead he stuck to the issues.

    John McCain never gave us a clear message. He spent too much time hating on Barack Obama and attempting to smear him. I cannot support a candidate that cares more about winning than the American people.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. geecee827

    Obama is spending the money that his contributors sent to him voluntarily. He is not spending money out of the General Treasury the way McCain is. You should be angry at McCain and his disastrous campaign strategy which is a joke. At least we Obama supporters are getting our money's worth. Obama is smart enough to know what works. McCain isn't smart, as evidenced by his awful pick for V.P.

    October 30, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. Swing State Girl

    I'm sure the number of viewers had nothing to do with people tuning in to watch the history making game 5 of the world series which normally airs at 8 pm. Personally, when I saw that crap, I decided to catch up on my DVR recordings for half an hour. It's nothing but meaningless propaganda. I'll believe it when I see it.

    October 30, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
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