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. oldfartmustgo

    shame on you CNN. This will come back to haunt you in the near future. By next week you'll be yesterdays news just like you did to Beck
    I guess the deep pockets of Exxon prohibited you from broadcasting
    the message. too bad.

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  2. Gabe Louisiana

    Dear on the fence voters

    This ad was not for die-hard McCain and Obama's supporters. It was for the indepents and leaning toward Obama voter. This ad was so simply that a 4th grade could get it. You cn not tell me that you for polices because he put it out there as simply that anyone can put and had stories to go with the polices. I mean that he related to Americans that is stuggling to achieve the America dream that we want to have. In the ad should how he read bedtime story to his kid and how a white man from Ky read a bedtime story to his kid. It just that all races want the same thing, a better future for there kids. What got me was when he talk about mother when she in hospital while dying of cancer, then dying with no worries , but worryingaout how to pay her medical bills because her insurance that she put her hard earning in wouldnt coverage her medical expense. It ws so real to me because went through that with my grandfather, very emotional. So please that another look at each other polices and make the choice that is better for you and not negative stuff that is out and not because of race to be you reason on voting

    thank you for your time
    An early voter

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. Elizabeth

    Just a note to all those who lament the amount of money spent on the ad: donations made to a candidate cannot be used for any other purpose than the campaign they were given towards without permission.

    Yes, the money could have been spent on infrastructure...if people had donated it to infrastructure. The point you miss is that many people donated money to the campaign so that Obama could present a clear and definite image to cut through all the false attacks.

    Stay positive! Obama/Biden 2008

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  4. Purple Alaska

    Let it be...let it be...let it be, oh let it be...whisper words of wisdom...let it beeeeeeee.

    Fired up ~ Ready to Go!

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Much of the post-ad chatter has been asking about the money spent and whether the spot was over-the-top and stuff–all insider pundit stuff.

    I think just about everybody who saw it came away with a positive image of Obama and put aside the crazy stories McCain has been pushing about him.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. Solider

    Obama's 30 minutes lastnight was an eye openning expereince. I have been to Iraq and I have seen things and done things to protect the freedoms of this country. The thing I can not protect is the American dream.....that is provided thru Government and how they manage our economy. I woud give my life for my country but I have had issues with how my country has treated us when we have returned from this war.....and it is discouraging. Obama has given me hope...I believe he will take care of the military.....I believe he will take care of our families....because what I saw lastnight was the America I fight for....It would feel so much better to know that my country was doing FOR the people not FOR the compaines and special interest.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  7. Jean Braithwaite

    This is Jean the Journalist and my vote is for Obama.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. rob

    to RFEERO–your friend Mc Cain admitted to Larry King that Obama wasn't a socialist-so don't post until you know the facts

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Trevor Guerlain

    Good for him. He deserves his own half-hour sitcom, a comedy entitled: I Wanna Rule Da World...who knew that Obama could be the next Will Smith? He's so Jazzy Jeff right now.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Steve from Somerset

    Has anyone heard that the man who worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC for Saddam Hussein has been named to serve on a candidate's presidential transition team? I'm serious. The name of the lobbyist is William Timmons and the name of the candidate is John McCain. Do a google search on THIS.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. NoBomma Hussein

    Any person making under 300,000 dollars will not see a tax increase.. no.. whats that?.. Any person making under 250,000 dollars will not see a tax increase... wha? oh.. Any person making under 200,000 dollars (biden whispers – 150,000 obama.. remember?) will not see a tax increase and most will see a tax cut.

    40% of america already doesn't pay taxes... all your doing is now giving them money instead of them just paying nothing.

    remember in 2007 when you voted on a bill to RAISE taxes on anyone making 40,000 dollars? OBAMA the SCRIPT READER = great. OBAMA OFF THE CUFF = a FLOP! real politics aren't behind a teleprompter. any holllywood actor / news anchor could have said exactly what you "read" off that prompter. good thing you paid for smart writers... and what about when you "PROMISED" not to take private funding, then went ahead and raised 650,000,000 dollars, more than ANYONE in the history! how much more! try 500,000,000 dollars more than ANYONE EVER. not like a few mil, but 500 mil.

    also, where were you born? kenya? hawaii? why did hillary try and get you removed from the ballot.. cause she knows your kenyan, not american.. alot of people will lose jobs on that coverup so hopefully it doesn't break.. you are a powerful man, better keep that covered up. where are your college records, your birth records, your HS records, your records for your masters or ANYTHING.. why do you have it all locked down? where is the tape of you toasting off a terrorist, i mean, your buddy.

    reading comments on CNN.com just shows me how idiotic america really is... you all are voting for a unexperienced liar who raised taxes on people making 40k a year with no experience, bad ties to bad people, and locked up records on his past so he can't be exposed as a moron.

    Cheers America. happy voting on the 4th.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Reese'-Rich VA

    My money went to a GREAT ad. It is a shame that we have to spend so much more in order to have a chance to win. I am glad to see my money being spent wisely instead of being spent on overpriced clothing.

    October 30, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Phil Newton from Murphy, Oregon

    Now THAT'S reality TV.

    Bravo!

    Obama 08

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. SB in NoVA

    Loved the endorsement from the guy from Google!
    Loved that fact that McAin't wasn't mentioned or even eluded to even ONCE! I challenge McDumb, Dumber and their no show plumber to put together 30 minutes of relavant information w/o mentioning Obama! HAHAHAHA ... they are NOT capable!

    I proudly voted for the SMART one!!!
    Obama/Biden 08 and beyond!
    Turn VA and the USA BLUE!

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. Bonn

    I donated to Obama's campaign and helped pay for this ad. I'm proud of Obama and his message and philosophy. Besides, I would rather pay for Obama ads than the Pallin family underwear. $150,000. Joke.

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  16. Ditto

    More from McBlame.

    McCain's complaints about Obama opting out of government funding are his lame way of blaming someone else for his own lack guts. No one forced him to take government funding. Unlike Obama, he simply did not have the courage to trust that his supports would fund his campaign.

    On the topic of his negative and nasty campaign? It is Obama's fault because he would not do town hall meeting with McCain.

    What is next? Obama made me pick Palin?

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  17. Bala

    Sid,
    You can go to youtube.com and type barack obama infomercial, you will see it.

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  18. Vobama

    Joe take your head off your crack and listen to the truth and reality that face us right now. Obama has a strategy well laid and thats why McSame the insane is crying foul even before the election is over.
    Strategic mind is what we need in the white house.
    Can you see the flow of cash streaming towards Obama even though we are facing a recession !!!! people are investing in their futures and thats why the give to OBAMA.
    Then man is a uniting factor after this division factor that we have seen within the last eight years. I am tired of seeing some of our brothers and sister kill themseves because they just can't take it anymore , chain themselves to their houses to fight forclosure, any yet some want us not to tax the rich?? The country is well built if it starts ground up and not up down!!!!

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  19. AMILES

    What matter of man is Obama? He must have been called out by God to lead our great nation and bring peace to the world. He is truely the right man for the President of these United States. I believe that the calling on his life at this time is much bigger than him. I also believe that he will make us all proud. You go my brother! You go!

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  20. OLD MAN YELLS AT CLOUDS

    Obama is going to win & you narrow minded right wingnuts can't stand it – well too darn bad – get used to it: PRESIDENT OBAMA! AND SO IT WILL BE

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  21. Voted for OBAMA on Tuesday in Louisiana

    Yes! This ad was great and brought tears to my eyes! Same thing when I voted! I feel so proud to have voted in this election for the right choice.

    October 30, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Eric M

    This was a great tool to inspire his supporters and get them fired up about voting on November 4th, but I don't see it as swaying any significant number of voters from McCain to Obama (though I'm sure some in these comments will claim that to be the case).

    It's a wonderful way to get people excited, and could be a deciding factor for a few undecideds here and there, but I don't feel like it was a game-changer. As a cynic, I found myself rolling my eyes on several occasions, particularly with an ad that promised specifics, and then glossed over details the same way the Obama campaign has done for months.

    Saying "we will create green jobs and revitalize the economy" is not a plan. Saying "if you make under $200k, you will get a tax cut" is not a plan. At least when Ross Perot tried something similar, he came armed with an overabundance of substance. Obama's ad was an emotional crescendo to his campaign, but did not give the kind of details I was looking for out of such a heavily hyped program. While I feel for the guy when he talks about losing his mother to cancer, I'm not concerned about "getting to know him" in that regard, so much as getting to know his specific plans to put America back on the right track.

    I have no doubts that Obama will be our next President, but this polished ad really didn't do it for me. I've seen the stump speech, and I walked away from the program not having learned anything about him or his policies that I didn't know the day before.

    October 30, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  23. JRM-PA

    All right Obama fans why is it o.k that he spends all this money on an ad and mean while his own family is living in the slum. what a hero! NOT!!! I guess we the American people are the only ones who have to share our earnings. Wake up and smell the coffee instead of the kool-aid.

    GO MCCAIN/PALIN!!!

    October 30, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  24. This is Crazy this race is still close

    I have donated to this campaign many times (the 1st time in my life) and I am VERY proud of how my dollars are being spent. I would be pissed if the campaign was spending 150K on clothes for Joe Biden. Not pointing fingers but you all know what I'm saying!

    October 30, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. mccain is a liar

    RFEERO or should I say gop insider

    OBAMA KOOLAID DRINKERS UNITE YOU WILL CHASE AWAY ALL
    THE CAPITAL FROM THIS COUNTRY BY HIS SOCIALIST POLICIES
    AND ....BLAH BLAH BLAH

    Thanks to people like you I donated this morning to President Obama

    October 30, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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