October 30th, 2008
03:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Obama ad a ratings success

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/30/art.obamaad.cnn.jpg caption="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. John

    go Obama all the way, we watched on NBC, and it was a good show. I'll bet thats why Joe the plummber missed McCain he was watching Obama... LOL...

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  2. welches oregon

    It was wonderful – Barack Hussein Obama has been all over this country talking to every walk in life.

    He "GETS" it.

    Vote for Change – Vote Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  3. Barb Dunn

    I'm almost ashamed to say that I was very moved. I've listened to everything both sides throw out there, and have been especially frightened by some of the things said about Obama.

    However, I feel in my heart that he is a good man, and would be a great president, and will more than likely vote for him.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  4. Rob

    I'm glad I helped pay for that ad! It was brilliant and didn't attack anyone!

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Mickie

    If John McCain would have just concentrated on what he has to offer rather than every single ad being a mud-slinger, maybe people wouldn't be so hungry for some positive input. I watched it and I have to tell you I was very impressed. Granted I am a supporter of Barack Obama but I was blown away with the details of his plans and the absolute lack of negativity. I hope people can put aside their bigotry and vote on the issues. Look at the Record Profits of Exxon and McCain wants to give them more tax breaks, supposedly to stimulate jobs, but those tax breaks haven't stimulated any jobs yet, just bigger CEO profits.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Ali

    Thank you Barack - you have spent our money well. All those who claim this was excessive misunderstand all of us who support and believe in this man. His message is one to be heard. His call to service and sacrifice is one to be heeded.

    Obama '08

    And I get to see him tonight in Columbia, MO!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Erik in Real PA

    And not one negative mention of McCain or Palin. No mention of them at all, actually. Well done.

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. sandy

    I sent money to the Dems for this election and thought this was money very well spent. Completely 'OVER THE TOP" wonderful! I wish he would do it again on election eve and really give the repubs something to talk about!

    October 30, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Tracey

    Give me a break!!! Why didn't this self richeous, self indulgant narcissist spend the money to help people who really need it? No need to hand it over to the very right television networks. He used his money to further his own agenda (not that of the American people) but for his own gratification. Anyone can read from a telepromopter Senator. You need to "get out" with people and really talk to them – off the cuff and not staged and scripted, I watched about 3 minutes of this self-agrendisement and had to turn it off because of the nausea I was feeling. (OK CNN-put that in your pipe and smoke it. You are the only ones that ever seem to read my posts because you won't let them out of moderation)

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. sophie in grand junction

    well done and thank you, Obama Camp. I voted for you five days ago and am still proud of that. .... it was wonderful to not hear McCain/Palin, Joe the stupid plumber and all the other rhetorical babble for thiry minutes.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. Canadian

    I watched it on youTube....loved it, cried and truly got inspired. How a man can turn a pin in his heart to make a mission of his life to change the world .... make it more fair. BTW , I am Canadian

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. cynthia

    Hey Susan,
    7 million can't go as far to help our country's problem as 10 billion a month spent in Iraq can go.

    Another Democrat.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |

    Obama didn't lie.......



    OBAMA 08

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. Karen, Arkansas

    Without the message last night most of us knew who to vote for.

    The Democratic Presidential nominee has the support and advice of Warren Buffet, former President Bill Clinton, and General Colin Powell.

    The Republican Presidential nominee has the support and advice of Caribou Barbie, about to be former President Dubya, and Joe the Plumber.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  15. Living in the USA

    BARACK, BARACK, BARACK. It's a shame that McCain is running his campaign like a SNL skit.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  16. Dave, MN

    I hope every child, black, white, latino, asian, indian, female is watching this election and deciding to follow in Barack's footsteps.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  17. Lynn in NM

    Wouldn't know. Didn't watch. Don't care!

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  18. Emma from Texas

    Oh my God, I loved watching Obama during the 30 minute, wish it was more than 30 minutes. I am very disappointed with CNN for rejecting the offer to air it when asked few weeks ago. I bet CNN regrets now. Thanks to CBS, NBC, MSNBC, BET, the latin channel, even FOX aired it, which I was shocked since Fox is pro-McCain.
    Anyways, I have already voted for Obama, but others please go out and vote! I would love to see Obama as our next president!

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. Audie C

    I thought that was not only brilliant, but one of the best programs I have ever seen this year. The way he reached out to the common people of this beautiful country moved and motivated me.

    My vote has already been casted. I am honored to have voted for a man who truly relates to his fellow citizens.

    Go Obama!

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  20. Undecided Voter in NC

    I watched a little bit of it, it was like his other commercials.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. ~Change We Need!

    To David who watched, and is still voting for McCain:

    Dude, you are a moron!

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. obie


    In response to your comment; 7million dollars...spent on TV ads; how about 10 billion dollars every month on Iraq. Remember, Obama has spent this amount over 3months.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  23. Dan, IL

    Bye, bye, Barack. Enjoy your 30 minutes of fame. Tuesday is coming.

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  24. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    A most strategic move for the Obama campaign..........and for the comment by JOE..........Wendy Button can vote for McCain......but her livelyhood belongs to Obama........

    October 30, 2008 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  25. Pete

    from Realtalk "That was by far the greatest political ad I have ever seen in the future of the United States. I can't wait to tell my children about the speech Barack gave when he excepted the Democratic nomination.
    We are watching the history of one of the greatest presidents of The United States of America as it is being made.

    One Love, One Choice, One Vote. Obama/Biden 08"

    First, great to see that you can see in the "future of the United States". Second, too bad Obama didn't "excepted" the Democratic nomination, we'd all be better off. Too bad he did "accept" the nomination. Third, I think you mean One Love, One Choice, Many votes. Obama/Biden 08. If you truely meant one vote, you'd be voting for McCain.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
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