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. Reason

    starting 5 months ago I contributed $25 each month and I am so proud of Senator Obama for using the 30 minute Ad not trashing his opponent rather what he is going to do if we elect him.

    so thank you again senator obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  2. Bill

    C'mon people, let us know. It's an anonymous blog.

    Did you donate using a pre-paid credit card?

    October 30, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  3. Annette

    I think some of us forget that both Obama and McCain are interviewing for the highest job in the land, we are the interviewers, we need to hear clear concise messages from these candidates. It's not about liberal, conservative or democrat or republican. It's about who is ready to lead and unite this great nation. Obama ad was a brilliant move and clearly demonstrates his ability to understand what the American people are most concern with, not color, religion, or cultural differences.

    October 30, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  4. Baby Love

    I couldn't be prouder of Barack Obama.

    He is truly an inspirational and intelligent leader.

    Just what we need.

    Don;t forget to VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE!!

    October 30, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  5. therealist

    Dishonest dough from a broken promise being used to make more promises than can not be kept.


    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Zman

    Only very smart people vote OBAMA, only very naives, dumbs and stupids people vote mccainpalin

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Alissa in Kansas

    It was a beautiful presentation. I was moved to tears by it.

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. shell

    I am also glad I have sent money to the Obama campaign. There's no denying a good thing when you see it.

    OBAMA 08!!

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Camilo

    This is so great! I'm so excited to finally get a smart president again. My son is nine years old and all he knows is a stupid, petty and incompetent president. I can't wait to show him what a real president should be like. Go intelligence!

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. aware

    I just read "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky! It was a good read, provacative, outrageous but funny and Obama has quoted portions of this book in his speeches! You don't have to totally agree with Alinsky to enjoy his books. 🙂

    However, I couldn't help but think that Obama lost much of the heart of Alinsky by spending 20 years with the angry Rev. Wright!

    If you organize people to get power for yourself and not to empower people you become a demagogue! Obama seems to have moved into Obama-power as a means to his own ends. 🙁

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Nicole

    Brandon, what do you mean we don't know anything about Obama? His life has been probed more than McCain's or Palin's life. All we know about Palin is that she was a beauty queen, she likes to hunt and after she became governer of Alaska, the state was in $19millions in debt. What else do we know about Palin? Obama has been scrutinized and ran through like a fine tooth comb. Anything you don't know about him is because you haven't been listening.

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. MM

    Well, thanks to your comment section, I know that at least 110 people watched the speech. Although I don't personally know of anyone that watched it!!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Dan, TX

    I think Perot's ads were better for explaining policy positions. I voted for Perot.

    But Obama's ad was reasonably good. I'm voting for Obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. White Middle Aged PA Woman for Obama

    Amusing how people can say he should have spent HIS money (actually money from his donors) differently when the current President has spent all of OUR money funding a war in Iraq that most people of this country want ended. Billions of dollars that could have gone into our own country and made a difference in housing, education health care. THAT, my friends, is the real injustice here, NOT Barack Obama spending 3.5 million on an ad that by the way, was very Presidential. I contributed many times – what I could afford any given pay week – $10.00, $20.00, one time it was only $5.00 and I couldn't be any happier with how he and his campaign has chosen to spend it.

    Let's fight the fight that needs fighting at this point – taking this country back from those who put us in this position.

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. James, Ho. TX

    Bravo, Bravo, Bravo !
    Can You Imagine how much Better, Obama could be with Experience ?

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Suzan

    My money should not go to Fox News...
    Obama should have used CNN instead...
    Fox is so biased I stopped watching it longtime ago

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. Once upon a horse

    wow you just have to shake your head over all the negativity being posted here by the far right and McCain/Palin folks. Perhaps if these people had any kind of heart and would stop throwing mud and trying to force a fake lying plumber down the Areican peoples' throats they could see what we really need in this country. I recall President Bush's father running on a platform of having a "kinder, more gentle America"...where the heck did that Republican party go to?

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. B

    Very refreshing to see a campaign ad talking about hope for the future instead of hate and fear from the past. John McCain let himself and his nation down with deceptive attacks and rampant half-truths. Maybe the next Republican candidates will show more respect to their voters...

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. offwallst

    SAYS WHO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. 2 yrs and its a Republican Congress again.

    I watch it as long as I could stay awake, same sad stories same pontifications really Boring sorry. when will this campain be OVER.

    2012 😉

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Youtubby

    To all the folk asking why the money wasnt spent to help the poor in our soceity, I thought you repubs called that socialism. A ccording to you, poor people in the soceity should not get anything handed to them, they dont need a break cos they are lazy, rich people giving to poor folk is socialism blah blah. So why flip the script now and advocate for poor people? You hypocrites !!

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. ANGIE

    What A great True American Story Barack you make me proud and thanks for taking My Donations and using them in a positive way !!

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. paula

    joe, who cares about wendy button?

    read the article on her and she sounds to me like a disgruntled wanna-be who only took to mccain because she felt she wasn't getting anywhere in the democrat campaigns. and she wasn't even a lead obama speechwriter (bet there are more and ones who played more central roles) like you make her out to be, merely an insignificant one who had a personal axe to grind. someone certainly i wouldn't even find remotely worth valuing my opinion against. nor should yours be for that matter, especially after major endorsements elsewhere and so many more GOP/republicans voting for obama.

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Brian

    Brilliant ad.

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. bg

    I am mystified by all of this talk about Obama lying as to the acceptance of public campaign funding... I think if you walked up and down the streets of New York, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix... etc. and asked whether or not the "Joe/Jane the Plumber" tax payer wants to see candidates utilize public funds for their campaigns.... the resounding answer will be NO NO NO... our tax money is squandered enough as it is.

    I say HOORAY to Obama for funding his campaign the right way... by inspiring people to throw $$upport his way of their own volition.

    October 30, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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