October 30th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
5 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. Pua, HI

    We need this brilliant man as our next President!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 08... can't wait!

    October 30, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Shane in RI

    GOOOOOOOOBAMA 08/12. What a really good show!

    October 30, 2008 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. RFEERO

    OBAMA KOOLAID DRINKERS UNITE YOU WILL CHASE AWAY ALL
    THE CAPITAL FROM THIS COUNTRY BY HIS SOCIALIST POLICIES
    AND WE WILL BE BROKE. BUT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO SIT AND
    WATCH HIS VIDEO BECAUSE YOU WONT HAVE A JOB . AND SAY
    HOW WONDERFUL HE IS. JUST REMEMBER A GOVERNMENT
    BIG ENOUGH TO PROMISE YOU EVERYTHING IS BIG ENOUGH
    TO TAKE EVERYTHING TOO.................
    .

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  4. judy - san leandro, ca

    CNN & ABC missed out on this infocommerical which was actually very good and that's why MSNBC is #1 in the nelson ratings.

    Obama for President

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. susan

    If anyone who saw this ad was not sure before, I can't imagine them needing more. It was thoughtful, moving, and sincere. It was what America, should be and could be, under an Obama administration. It's time for us to stand together and take our country back!

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  6. achoka

    Good strategy. All along Mcsame has been underrating Obama ignoring every point of reason. Now he is trying to bring unnecessary issue hoping that such will capture people's attention.

    Obama go go go and go. You are a person of the people.

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Scarfo

    America can see the dramatic contrasts of messages between the two Presidential candidates! Obama's 30 minute ad was positive! It reflected on how many Americans are struggling now, and Obama lays out his ACTUAL PLAN to fix these problems. John McCain is strickly negitive/attack attack,smear,mock, and he don't even reveal HIS PLAN to help with America's problems. Anybody can notice this! That's why my choice is made, MY VOTE goes to Barack Obama!

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. Pancho

    If one pauses to think a moment, it is highly unlikely that Obama – a relatively unknown junior Senator – could come from nowhere in two years, defeat Sen. Clinton and five other well known Democrats, and now be poised to deliver a crushing defeat to the Conservatives. Sen. McCain has run for president before. He knows how it is done and he has experienced advisors around him.

    For Obama to have dones this, someone in the Obama organization is very very clever. I don't know if Obama is the brains behind this impressive success or not, but I hope so.

    It is clear that Sen. McCain, for all his strengths, is outmatched. He is reduced to a spluttering elderly gentleman. Obama has been cool and unexcited throughout the entire campaign – at least in public.

    I hope this is an omen of things to come.

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. What Happened To You Guys?

    It is pathetic, the way some Veterans slander McCain, stay on topic, give your point of view and move on, why insult him?

    I will think twice before dropping any $$ in your coffee cup while you sleep under the bridges and by the subways.

    Elect Obama, and he will even take your cardboard box away!

    Have some respect!

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Gina in Racine Wi

    To all the Haters out there:

    Stop hating!!!

    This man is focused, has a clear understanding of the problems America has and will face.....the determination and intelligence to fix them.....and is able to reach across Party lines to UNITE us.

    That is why he will be the next President of the United States of
    America!

    His Infomercial was great......and as a contributor to his Campaign....I am very happy about how my money is being spent.

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Super D

    Ducking hard questions, that's the Obama way.

    the add was disgusting, he was acting like Chairman Mao from China, that's where he wants to take America.....

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  12. lopez in Gregory, TX

    Anyone still undecided? Remember Palin will be your president if something happens to McCain. Still undecided?

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  13. SD

    I too liked the Sen. Obama Infomercial. The tone was executive and informative. Touched on various subjects with real life people as a back drop. And especially liked how not one time did he mention John McCain. Now when is the last time McCain say anything to anybody with out mentioning Sen. Obama? Like Never. I like people who can focus and state their case without talking about another person. This is the man we need representing us nationally and internationally.

    It was refreshing not to hear one of the candidates screaming something violent. For ex: Fight, Fight for me, or the words terrorist, liar, ect... When I listen to McInsane or Palin, I always feel like I'm back in the Army and need to be checking for my M16 and Gas Mask!!

    OBAMA 2008!!

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  14. JL

    I thought it showed a man with exactly the qualities most americans say they want in a leader. Too bad some people won't bother listening before robotically spewing whatever hate and fear message McCain is using on a given day. I think anyone with a half-way open mind would be impressed.

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. RealityKing

    30% less than the debates is a success??

    October 30, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Becky

    For anyone saying that this ad was a "waste of money", I could say the same thing about the IRAQ WAR. I donated to Barack Obama and I think the money was well spent. Barack Obama would do great things for Americans as President.

    McCain once said that he wanted to focus more on Iraq, and that Americans could deal with their problems in the meantime. Someone needs to get their priorities straight.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  17. Chryssa

    That's right! Americans want real answers presented in a straight-forward, positive manner. No silly names, no accusations, just answers. And that's what Obama's giving us.

    Obama/Biden '08/'12

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Kiah G.

    Dear Joe,

    Who talks about speech writer voting for McCain...SO WHAT! There are many more important Repubs voting for Obama then some silly speech writer who no one knows!

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    Sid, you can watch it on Huffington Post.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  20. Michael watching from Canada

    To Rena: I completely agree with you. Its nice to see that some Americans see the reality of the campaigns as we do outside the US.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. dave harlow

    I watched Baseball, good second half to the game.....My daughter wanted to watch the fairy tail of "Obama and the lost country" but i told her the ending and she said lets watch baseball.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  22. CAL

    It was AWESOME!!! Obama is such a special man and I, like so many others see this gift he has been given. He will make a great president.

    Obama/Biden

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  23. Thomas

    While McCain & Palin sling mud and spew their bombast, Obama articulates a clear and believable agenda to turn our country around.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. Fighting to elect Obama Since he must be politically correct!

    I betcha McRogue and co aren't feelin all McMaveicky right now.

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. Lori

    I am proud of Obama for using his money to make sure that he gets elected. I will be so afraid if McCain and Palin are in power.

    On Rick Sanchez's twitter show today there was a McCain spokesperson who was trying to say that Obama hangs around anti-semitic people and HE COULD NOT NAME ONE PERSON!!! It was pathetic. Rick kept on pressing him and he had this deer in the headlights look. That is how pathetic McCain's campaign is. If you cannot come out with hardcore evidence then stop throwing nonsense out there hoping it will stick. No logical person believes that Obama is a terrorist that will overthrow the American government and arm the Middle East with nuclear bombs to annihilate Israel (it sounds just as ridicuolous as the Republicans insinuations). STOP THIS NONSENCE MCCAIN AND PALIN. Tell me and the American people where you stand on issues that affect me and my family. Not this foolishness. IT IS DISGUSTING, SENSELESS AND WILL NOT WORK THIS YEAR!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
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