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. Mayra Tostado

    Obama's infomercial amounted to what a greatly produced and well-written presidential ad should be all about. It excluded mentioning of adversaries and demonstrated true commitment to the lives of Americans. It gave me chills and at the end, made me cry. Barack Obama is the first President in my lifetime that I would feel proud about and continue to fight for. His ad was a masterpiece! VOTE OBAMA IN 5 DAYS!!


    CNN, u really missed out. Too bad you didn't air it!

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Tafari

    "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." Who cares about the cost, look at the great results!

    Go Obama!!!

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

    All Obama/Biden supporters.....stay focused! No early celebrations...lets see this one all the way through! I don't want just a victory, I want a LAND SLIDE, at lease 70% – 30% so VOTE baby VOTE...get everyone you know to VOTE, VOTE, VOTE...!!!

    O H I O

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Washington Voter

    I'm glad that my donations helped in the making of this Video.

    I can't wait for Guy Fawkes Day and McShame has conceded.

    President Elect Barack Obama!

    Real Americans for Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  5. Rose

    Wait until he get ahold of the national budget. How many times a week will we need to see his ego on tv then. Yep, when will enough be enough how about when a candidate GIVES UP TO CHARITY THE SAME ABOUT AS WHAT THEY SPEND. This was a total waste of money and truly showing that the US is a country of excess and this man will continue the same.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  6. Wendy

    I contributed for the first time this year, to a political campaign,. I'm proud to have my money used for that spot. A much better investment than the people who have contributed to the GOP mudfest this year.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  7. Rhoda

    I said it from the start that Barack Obama was one of the most intelligent men ever to run for President. Now you McCain/Palin lovers can hate him all you want, but you cannot say the man is not what we need. Oops, I think you all know that now. I have to say I was so pleased and inspired no Joe the Plummer and all that other crap the Rebublicans seem to muster up!!! Stop the hating and learn to say PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!! VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN!!! Its high time something good happens to this country.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  8. CB2

    Joe and Etc....who cares about Wendy Button. She is mute at this point. Furthermore, she didn't even say anything damaging about Barack Obama. Nice try, but it won't work. Besides do you really think that she wouldn't have bad things to say about "the most negative campaign" John McCain's camp. Really??

    His own campaign is saying that she's a diva and whack job.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. Jason - NY

    It was a great video, and I loved the way it tied into him speaking live at that rally.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Lost in Texas FOREVER

    And CNN chose NOT to show it. How sad. I saw it on another network really wishing I could have watched it live on CNN. And one thing I noticed was during the whole program Sen Obama did NOT say anything negative about Sen McCain or Gov Palin. You think if it were th other way around they could have done such a thing without negativity? I doubt it..in fact they probably would have let "Joe the Plumber" introduce the whole thing.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Commonwealth of Virginia

    Not once in the ad did he mention John McCain. McCain can learn a thing or two from Sen. Obama.


    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. LIP

    If it was a ratings success, then why did he lose percentages right after the show was over?
    Perhaps people saw through the thin veneer.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. Hey Folks

    Listen please: We are voting for a President not the next American Idol. Choose wisely.

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Kelcie

    I am glad it was a hit and thought it was a wonderful ad. Obama's team effectively depicted REAL people going through REAL struggles, very similar to what many of us Americans face.

    Its definitely a contrast from McCain's fake plumbers, bakers, and dairymen, etc.......

    Obama/Biden '08!

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. tim in carroll ia

    How many people watched John McCain on Larry King? Apparently not many since CNN is posting the interview on the "ticker".

    If you missed it (and most of you did), McCain trotted out the worn out "Obama lied" about taking public financing song and dance. Truth is, John, you don't need to sit up nights waiting for Obama to call about this. Truth is, John, Obama's people met with your people and they couldn't strike a deal.

    Maybe your people forgot to tell you that Obama's people called. Just like they forgot to tell you "Joe the plunger" didn't show up for your little event yesterday. Just like they forgot to tell you not to pick Palin for a running mate. Oh, Wait – they DID tell you not to pick Palin, didn't they. Maybe, YOU forgot.

    Over 3 million regular Joes have donated to Obama's campaign because this country needs to change from what you and Bush have created (or destroyed) over the last 8 years.

    But there are two things you can learn from this election:
    1. Even the high roller folks that you gave tax breaks to, won't part with their money to bail out an inept loser, even though you greased their palms.
    2. The biggest lie told in this campaign season was when YOU said, "I'll run an honorable campaign."

    October 30, 2008 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  16. Tom, KS


    The Financial Times and now The Economist have both endorsed Obama for the presidency. Why is it none of the Main Stream Media outlets have covered this while allowing McShame and Failin to keep up their attack about Barack being a socialist. Clearly the top economic magazines in this country understand that that is simply not true and that Obama has the right plan to lead us into a more prosperous future. Please CNN start doing your job and call out McCain when he is clearly lying.

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

    Brilliant! Obama is the kinda of President I want to run this country. I'm a ordinary citizen who gave my money to Obama's campaign simply because I truly beleive he wants the best for this country and the American people. I realize John McCain was taking money from lobbyists to strike Obama during this last month and Obama need US the American people to step in donate to his campaign. (this is money well spent for me). McCain's jealousy amazes me over the fact that Obama's campaign was paid for by citizens while McCain's campaign was paid for by the Republican party and lobbyists. Even with all their cunning, wicket campaigning, McCain claims he didn't have enough money to have a 30 minute infomercial. If McCain had sold one of his 7 houses he owns, perhaps he would have taken the 8:30pm slot last night.

    People, let's make this election count and not repeat the mistakes of 2000. We the American people failed Gore by NOT demanding a total recount in Florida. Remember Gore lost by 537 votes.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. xddy4u

    Talk about an about face, first the pundits say Obama was wasting money on such Ad. Now that it was a success, the Networks are now wishing Obama had done that sooner, and maybe more Ads could had been done, bottom line, Air Time Revenue. Over 26 million watched, when they said that such an Ad would take away from the World Series. The both complemented each other. Everything Obama touches turns to GOLD.

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  19. Brandon




    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  20. MartinP

    It's obvious by how the hate bloggers have stepped up their efforts that they're afraid, and that ad rang a bell of doom for them.

    They're calling Obama "savior" and "messiah", a baby-killing muslim socialist black radical anti-Israel celebrity eliteist corporate shill. Oh my, the conservative base is becoming desperate and hysterical! If you believe all that crap, I have a bridge in Alaska to sell you!

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Gloria

    I feel as if my donation was well spent

    It was a breath of fresh air from all of the negativity lately

    I join the 200 former diplomats who endorse Obama. I join Colin Powell a respected individual. I join the countless people who donated what little they can to get Obama's message out over the endless ranting and raving of the conspiracy theorists.

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  22. vahe

    baaaammmmmmmm Obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!! and I'M white too

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  23. Team America

    VETERANS FOR OBAMA- By "Veterans" you me YOU...not plural, You is singular. You don't speak for all veterans, obviously, because you don't speak for me.

    What kind of a vet favors a guy who has never served in our nation's military, or who has zero military and national security experience combined??? That's like putting bugs bunny in charge of the actual Disney company. I hate stupid people...

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. Jason B

    Smart, well put togeather, and great policy summation. Tack on a joint rally with Pres Clinton after in the I-4 corridor: Brilliant!!!


    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  25. IF, Portugal

    What I find disgusting in McCain is how he keeps repeating lies, hoping, maybe, that people will trust his white hair and apparently benign face.

    I heard him say Obama signed a paper promising to accept public financing of his campaign. "He lied to the American people". Obama DIDN'T sign any paper, he didn't even discuss the issue with McCain, though campaign aides met over the issue. These facts have been checked by CNN. All of this smacks of McCain being irritated for running short of money provided by taxpayers while his opponent has money provided by his supporters.

    McCain's bad judgemnent... but at least he'll have to pay for it and not the american people and the rest of the world if the McCain/ palin ticket gets elected.

    October 30, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
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