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. DMD

    Can somebody please tell me by a posting here, during the 2008 President Election, does New York and New York Ciy have any proposals or propositions on the ballot too?

    October 30, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  2. Joe

    Obama's speechwriter, Wendy Button, has confirmed she is voting for McCain!! Take that CNN...thanks for reporting on it.

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. Greed is not good

    Ladies and Gentleman...witness the next Great Communicator and President of the United States: the honorable gentleman Barack Obama!

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. Deke

    What a waste of money... He needs to redistribute some of that money... Oh wait, he just wants to redistribute other peoples money not his.... That's right, forgot....

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  5. Ralph

    If all John McCain going to talk about is Joe the plumber, then certain I want to see more of Mr. Obama.

    Go Obama 08

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. Ben in San Diego

    I watched it.... it was compelling... God bless Barack Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  7. MIKE chicago

    And more to the Ad McCain's name was not mentioned ...not once in the 30 mins...
    Absolutely brilliant!!

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  8. So?

    Well, don't celebrities usually bring in a large group of viewers.

    I also watch "Dancing With The Stars," another highly rated program, however, do I ever cast a vote based on a costume, nice lighting or a lot of pancake make-up, nah!

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  9. SONGBIRD MCCAIN

    What a lot of wasted breath talking about unity, progress and hope. I like my candidates to be divisive! Talking about hatred, slinging mud and all. Who cares about how he will make America a better place? Who cares about constitutional freedoms? I want someone playing the fear card! I want someone spreading malicious lies! I want someone who thinks dinosaurs and people roamed this 6,000 year old planet together! I want hypocrisy! McCain 08!

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. fed up republican

    Just putting the facts out there so he can show that he has a plan to run this country and isn't just smearing the other guy. I have already voted for Obama.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Harold

    Barack was smart to do this. This was a good ad, compared to the low character type of mud slinging coming from the republicans.

    Barack stands out even more now, and MacCain and Palin look like mere gossipers...No substance but lots of mud to sling around.

    October 30, 2008 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. Democrat 4 Life

    McCain just can't catch a break...

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Nimi from NY

    It's our money. So far it's paid off. CNN may have regrets on not carrying the informatial live.

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  14. Chi4Obama

    I can't wait to read the posts on this blog, from all of the jealous McCain supporters, complaining that Obama has so much $$.

    I actually saw John McCain "crying" about this last night on Larry King (i.e. how Obama raised all of this money).

    Hey GOP, don't hate Barack because he is popular.

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  15. Hope LV,NV

    coming from a Proud Obama supporter/donor money well spent.

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. kcmookie

    Man, I cannot wait to cast my vote for Obama, this is the first time in my life I have actually been PROUD to vote for someone instead of choosing the lesser of two evils. I had no idea a politician could actually inspire me. Thank you Senator Obama.

    Obama 08!

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. observer

    I really liked the ad. It was inspiring.I hoped that the people who have not decided at this point who to vote for felt they know Sen. Obama and what he stands for a little better.

    October 30, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  18. mume

    Obama all da way, I can't wait to go vote on Tuesday Obama/biden08

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. Cory

    Brilliant! We need a smart president!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  20. Lamarr

    Brillaint strategy...program itself was very revealing and real. Good job Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  21. Lynnette

    Obama's strategy has been very good and knows how to put McCain on his heels.
    It's too bad that CNN didn't take part in viewing it to the public. I guess you guys thought it was going to bomb and didn't want anything to do with it. Not a good decision from your executives.

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  22. Chi4Obama

    Can you say President Obama :-)

    By the way, Republicans don't forget to exercise your right to vote on November 5th (sarcasm).

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Bit

    It was a success in all different aspects............not just TV ratings.

    Job well done, Senator; I mean Mr. President.

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  24. PJ

    GOOD INVESTMENT. Well done!

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Kanadian Kidd

    Money. Well. Spent!

    October 30, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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