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. Ed from Dallas

    Let me tell you why Obama will forever change politics in America. Because he has finally involved the voters in the process.
    Even thought he does get a majority in the Senate, he will have enough voters on his side to force the senators to work with him. All he has to do is send an email to the voters requesting them to call their Senator and support his Healthcare or Energy or whatever bill.
    Don’t forget that politicians go with the voters and not ideology. All they care about is being reelected. The GOP is learning this that hard way. Case in point. Bachmann in MN. Called for media to investigate Congress for ‘Anti-American’ lawmakers. Within 48 hrs, her opponent had received donations over $1 Mil in campaign donations. This is the power voters suddenly realized they have and will wield it against dump politicians.

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. Pete

    Geez, Oboma's supporters watched an Obama infomercial. Thanks, I would never have guessed. Put some of those writers on the task of exposing Obama's questionable relationships, that's probably more relevant.

    Oh never mind, I know none of your writers have the qualifications to do invesigative journalism, they only can do the tabloid type journalism.

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  3. Leviathan the Winner

    Once again, a black man to save the social and civil structure of America comes, and once again, the beneficiaries of his efforts hate him...

    Hasn't America been here before with another guy by the name of King? And his name "sounds pretty American" if you ask me!

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  4. David

    I watched it, and I'm still voting for McCain....

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  5. Darlis

    Totally inspiring. The man is so genuine that one would have to be wearing blinders not to see the difference. No mud, just the facts ... no tearing down McCain, no Joe the Plumber – it was what politics should be about. I also watched Senator McCain on Larry King and was so struck by the fact that all he talked about again was what was wrong with Obama. I was a bit disappointed that Larry King didn't try to divert him to the issues, but rather let him spew his normal hate. I've never been prouder of a candidate for President nor more excited by the prospect of a decent man in the office. BTW, I'm a 66 year old white female, still working in the legal profession, and I'm offended for women everywhere that McCain did not pick one qualified. He actually did quite a disservice to women, and in particular to Sara Palin.

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  6. Always Blue Maryland

    Very well done piece of film. I continue to be amazed at the professionalism of this campaign and am proud that my campaign donations have been used so wisely.

    October 30, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  7. I Just Said Thanks, but No Thanks to Another 4 years of g.o.p. corruption, arrogance and incompetence

    Thanks for spending the hundred bucks, I sent you, wisely.

    OB08

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Jennifer NY

    I thought it was terrific.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Me

    They complained about $150K on Palins clothes?
    Look at the millions wasted on this 1/2 hour ad.
    WASTE!
    Obama the Fruad

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  10. travis

    "October 30th, 2008 3:27 pm ET

    Should be……….he has spent over 7 MILLION dollars on TV ads.

    7 MILLION could go a long way to help our country's problems.

    A Democrat"

    LOL at Susan. $7M couldn't build a highway bridge.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  11. Josephine Grison

    I loved it!!!! He made me cry! Never in my adult life have I been touched by a Presidential Candidate. I know that Barack Obama is the man who can make the USA the powerhouse and the envy of the world we once were. My fellow US Citizen's all over the world please join together and go out and vote and feel good when you make the choice of choosing Barack Obama as your next President and will do us all proud. I am 1000% sure about that.
    Regards,
    Josephine Grison

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  12. mike

    Less than a third of people watching any of the debates. obama wants to give away money but his brother lives in a tin shack and his aunt lives in a dump in Boston. Biden gives no money to charity but both of them want to give our money away but will not let go of any of theirs.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  13. Not all fooled in Chicago

    So many uninformed people! This guy has the charisma, no doubt! Unlike Hitler though, he's all mouth.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  14. Noah

    Well obviously, it was on before every show that people watch on Wednesday nights. It does not mean it was the right audience viewing it and that it will make any difference at all.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  15. Shelly, FL

    I loved the ad, it was great. I taped it and will watch it again. Barack did a fabulous job, as usual. He's hitting it out of the ballpark.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  16. Indiana Joe

    Today two undecided coworkers said they are now seriously thinking about voting Obama. They really liked last night's infomercial and say that OBAMA WILL BE A GREAT PRESIDENT..! The ad was inspirational! VOTE OBAMA / BIDEN '08..!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  17. Canada for Obama

    McCain will probably respond with a 30 minute joe the plumber haloween special.

    Obama/Biden 08'

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. CANADIAN FOR OBAMA

    I love the american people but hate their Government. A Barrack presidency will brake that cycle for me. He is inspirational and will lead your country and by extent mine to greatness.

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  19. This Jew is voting for Obama

    Yes we can!!! yes we can.. Go out and vote and read the machines before voting be very carefull.. Let's put Barack in the White House!! well deserved! great campaign great staff overall just great great historical year!

    October 30, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  20. American

    So, McCain and his campaign advisors are too stupid to take advantage of
    21st Century media to get his message out there, and too stupid to accept
    public donations for campaigning (not clothing expenses). Yeah, those are the
    people we want in the White House.

    Kudos to the Obama camp for forward thinking, planning, and clear direction.
    Exactly what this country needs to elevate it back to the status it should enjoy in the world.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  21. Pam

    Obama is awesome!

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. mediapro

    Just an FYI, this is not accurate: 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.

    a 22 rating means 22 percent of the entire population was watching, not just 22 percent of the people tuned in to television.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  23. why don't people think?

    Why are people talking about how the money could have helped americans?

    It did, it helped the producers, the directors, the tv networks, all the people involved in the editing and filming of the commercials.

    That was a huge chunk of work and a lot of AMERICANS were PAID for it.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  24. GI

    I saw the informercial and I found it to be very moving!!! OBAMA 08!!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  25. Steve

    I saw this broadcast. It was very good. Oddly enough, it reminded me of Ronald Reagan's messages. You will remember, Ronald Reagan, who was president before Karl Rove and his bunch showed up, did a fine job of uniting the country and getting the economy moving after the debacle of Jimmy Carter's presidency. Some people complained that he had no substance, he had no experience, and he was "just a movie star", but he was charismatic, very intelligent, learned quickly, was considered a peer by other world leaders, and though he was a nice guy, he was tough as nails underneath. Sound familiar? I voted for him. Twice. I recognize leadership, as many of my fellow countrymen do. I will also be voting for Obama. Hopefully twice (in two elections).

    If McCain is elected, his presidency will mirror Nixon's. He will have a vice president he's constantly battling with (Nixon constantly battled with Agnew). He will be an ineffective leader, who uses subversion and yes, illegal tactics to get what he wants accomplished completed. Eventually his VP will be indicted and run out of office, and he will follow. I recognize leadership and ethics. McCain has neither.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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