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. Calofornaian_96

    Joe, where are you?” McCain asked, clearly hoping that Joe would make himself known. “Joe, I thought you were here today. All right, well, you’re all Joe the plumber, so all of you stand up.”

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  2. Hardworking American for McCain

    what's so outstanding? Anyone could do what was done last night. Obama is an attorney. Attornies do this all day long. There is nothing special about this wasted 30 minutes of my time. All that was done is waste $5 million of money that could have helped the less fortunate!

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  3. Mickie

    Wendy Button is no more credible than Joe the Non-Plumber, who didn't even both to show up for his center ring show. You would think someone would have mentioned that to John McCain before McCain announced him. Gee, I wonder how smoothe the government would run with these same people in charge (LOL)!

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  4. hello

    it was mind boggling and awesome.
    a very honest president we can have after Jimmy carter.

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  5. Paul

    Obama 08!

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  6. Bob in Oklahoma

    After seeing your piece on the interview with Goldbure, and his SMUG look on his face, I ask myself what will be the next thing the republican's do to discredit this ELECTION?????

    October 30, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  7. max

    what's with the lessening of tax bracket from $250k to $200k? I haven't heard this before so what made him change the plan?

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  8. Proud to be American

    I loved it and it was wonderful.... I called friends and family talking about waiting to vote on the 4th and encourage them (not much arm twisting) to vote early..... change is coming.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  9. Ken

    Why is it the Dems talk all over the place about the Reps spending $150K on the Palins' clothes in this tough, tough economy, but no one will talk about $3..5 MILLION SPENT ON AN INFOMERCIAL?!!!!

    DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE THAT MONEY COULD HAVE HELPED?! HOW MANY PEOPLE COULD HAVE KEPT THEIR HOUSES?!

    Must be nice to buy and election and break a promise on public financing.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. arc, Lugano CH

    Senator Obama laid out his economic plan without attacking McCain's character and ideas.

    Inversely, all McCain seems capable of is appealing to the lowest common denominator of ignorance and fear in people who don't have the education and experience to think globally and progressively.

    This year's election season truly revealed the True Face of rural, conservative white America for the entire world to see; as best displayed in the effigy this morning in Kentucky of Senator Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Joe the Schmoe

    Set it and forget it.
    McCain is Done

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. FLORIDA for Obama

    We believe our DONATIONS have been put to GREAT use.

    OBAMA/BIDEN '08 AND '12

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  13. Laurie

    Wendy Button merely switched her registration from Dem to Ind. She was also fired from her two speech writing jobs and is a little more than bitter about it. She has clearly decided to grasp her "Joe the Plumber" spotlight. It's pretty pathetic and very sensationalistic.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  14. Dan

    It's no wonder Obamalosi has such a following. He keeps promising all these freebies, and the do-nothings in our economy can't line up fast enough. That, along with the Obamedia being totally in the tank for him.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  15. David in Dallas

    Some people's campaign donations went to this ad.

    Some people's campaign donations went to buy Palin's wardrobe.

    'Nuff said.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  16. Amazed

    You can judge a candidate by the way they led their campaign. Those who are still voting for McCain only care about their personal gains and their right wing agenda. Haven't they ruined this country and its reputation enough?

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. Mike

    On an earlier comment someone was saying that "the tax level for Americans who will receive cuts under his plan seems to have changed from the $250,000 to $200,000".

    If they were paying attention actually what Obama said was that Americans who make $250k or less will not see their tax level increase and that those who make $200k or less will get a tax break. There has not been any change in his tax policy. Pay attention!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Sue Joordens

    When I saw Barack Obama speak at the Democratic Convention in 2004 I finally felt there was hope for America – he has done nothing to change my mind since. Hopefully on November 4th Americans will realize they need someone with Obama's intelligence and judgement. The way he surrounds himself with smart people and thinks before he speaks is so refreshing – do you really want another cowboy in the White House?
    Go Obama.
    Sue from Toronto

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Ken

    CNN, the LA Times, MSNBC, and the NY Times are no longer the news networks and publications they once were. Everything about Obama is a "smash' hit. Next....Headline: Obama Blink-A Smash Hit! Get real. Report news...not create news, but wait-you guys are no longer news organizations, just an apparatus of the Obama campaign so it wouldn't matter. The infomercial was pathetic, he can buy another hour or two and still wouldn't change a thing. What Obama doesn't get is that it's not what he'll say over and over that will get to people, but rather his records that he can't buy. He can buy all the air time he wants, but it's his records (or lack of) that he can't buy. I wonder who and from where are you polling, CNN that made you declare the infomercial a "Smash Hit"? You polled workers from CNN....now I gets it. It makes perfect sense. Post this if you dare.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. Yonatan

    CNN ........ you should aired Obama's ad.........................GOOD JOB OBAMB.................

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. AirDiva in NC for OBAMA

    I was in line the first week that early voting started here in NC. I cried then because it was so emotional and I'm still crying because it's all about to become a reality!! I volunteer with the campaign, donate money (still donating to this day) and I can't be more proud of MY CHOICE for PRESIDENT!!! The Obamercial was donation dollars well spent !!!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. Robert

    Obama looks presidential. He acts presidential. He sounds presidential. This country needs a man with a steady hand and who is in control of himself – not an angry old man whose greatest attribute is a quick temper, a foul mouth and the poor judgment to pick a totally unqualified running mate. This country NEEDS Barack Obama!

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. JasontheUPSGuy

    Prediction : Stock Markets around the world will JUMP close to 1000 points when Obama is elected on Nov. 4th.

    Mark my words.

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. pahleeze

    The only reason there were high ratings was because all of the people who wanted to watch the world series had NO CHOICE but to watch the last few minutes of that blah, blah, blah....... CHASE UTLEY FOR PRESIDENT!

    October 30, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. julie

    I thought it was brilliant! I'm surprised McCain didn't have a heart attack while watching it. The live rally at the end was the exclamation point!

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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