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. Elle

    So funny to watch the republicans slam this ad... but if they had the money you know they'd be doing one too! Obama may have "backed out" on public financing, but it just shows his judgment skills. He knew he could raise more dough independently, and he did, so he took the option he thought was best. McCain supporters, you don't care what Obama does and you won't see clearly, you're just full of hate and I feel sorry for you. Wish you would realize all this slander put out by the Reds isn't true – Obama has all of our best interests at heart, which showed in last night's ad.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  2. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Obama's ad took John McCain back 2 years and he is still stuck there with a few days left in the campaign talking about campaign funding. John McCain is an old crook who is finally getting what he deserves after deserting his first wife Carol who was badly injured in an auto accident and waited 5 years for his return only to marry younger and richer Cindy. Don't ever forget, there is a just God.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  3. Ranchlady - WA State

    I would like to thank the producers, the director, the many writers, the camera crew and all the people involved for putting on such a tear jerking event. I still did not hear specific things that make me feel comfortable with Obama as President. Too much warm air for me.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Kentucky


    Can you please tell me what is left for the government to take? They've already taken it all. So before you start dishing out negativity, get your stories and facts straight first. Typical McCain supporter. As far as the Koolaid remark, you may need to watch your mouth because we already have enough to deal with without you shouting out racist idiotic remarks. Take a step back a look in the mirror, then maybe you'll realize you're part of the problem and one of the reasons this nation is so divided. I'm white by the way, but idiots like you piss me off.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Eloquence vs experience

    Eloquence is great for making speeches. So he makes a great speech. But I would rather have someone in the top office of our country who knows what they're doing rather than one who has a great speech writer. Vote for the actions people, not the promises. Words will get us nowhere. We need a doer in office not an empty promise maker.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  6. Ceasar

    I'm very excited and glad that I had an opportunity to early vote for Senator Barack Obama! The 30-minute minute video was AWESOME!!!!! If you miss it, please go to Youtube and check it out!

    I don't understand why the McCain camp is continuing to spew negative info on Obama with only a few days left before Election Day! He should be addressing his economic plan instead. Nevertheless, anyone should easily discern that Senator Obama is an honest guy who goal is to bring people of all races together. It's so blatant who is the better person. Take a look at the people at McCain rallies and then look at Obama rallies which include Citizens of all walks of life.

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  7. g canada

    mccian comedy hour the new three stooges

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. aware

    Words without action may impress but may also greatly disappoint!

    Obama's dismal record leads me to believe that he will greatly disappoint!

    He has not demonstrated anything that would encourage me to trust his words!

    I am a former democrat and Hillary supporter, now an Independent, who voted for McCain/Palin 08!

    October 30, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. pa.joe

    Ads, speeches and polls don't win elections.
    Votes do!!
    Get out and vote!!

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Oakbrook, IL

    very clever and touchy stories of all types of Americans. God bless America.

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. JUSTIN

    That might possibly be the biggest mistake Obama could have made. It was cheesy with no substance. I'm telling you folks he will lose this election.

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. kyle Rossco


    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  13. Tony

    So as the ratings confirm, overall it wasn't that big a deal. Basically a buncha Obama supporters watched it and then pat themselves on the back. Number of votes gained: zero.

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  14. vote! OBAMA-BIDEN NOV.4th


    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  15. R. Dale Woos

    CNN should bite the bullet and admit that the Rick Sanchez show is a continuing commercial for Sen. Barack Obama. It is so obvious that Rick is promoting Obama that I want to never watch CNN again.

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  16. Mary-Dallas, TX

    I donated money to Obama and I consider the ad money well spent. He has been very sensible with his spending in both public and private life. Some of the very uninformed McCain hatemongers are what scare me. BTW, Wendy Button WAS NOT an Obama speechwriter!

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  17. Pam

    I should have taped it last night. Obama is full and hope and sees the good that I see in this nation. Unlike McGrinch who has led the MOST negative and dirty campaign I can remember. McGrinch and Failin' would bring NOTHING but more despair to this already desperate nation. The President sets the MORAL tone for the nation and the best choice for this is BARACK OBAMA!

    So all of you Repugs need to shut up, sit down, and do as you are told the next 8 years while WE clean up YOUR mess!

    October 30, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  18. fella from Chicago

    Let's agree to put a cap on campaign spending then back-out. So I'm a liar, but I have money now to buy the presidency. Kool-aid drinkers of America, you'll have what you wanted and waited for next week. I hope you choke on his tax increases because Obama the Kenyan is going to re-establish the welfare system including the welfare "queens" of urban America. Idiots!

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  19. Steve in CA

    Joe (3:15 pm ET): So what if Wendy Button is voting for McShame. General Powell is voting for Obama. I have more respect for Powell than I do Wendy.

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  20. KM

    Obama supporters, have you volunteered to help? Are you on the phones, knocking doors, talking to your friends? We need all the help we can get, including data entry and driving people to the polls.

    We will only win if we don't let up for one moment. Don't just sit there watching poll numbers, get out of that chair and lend a hand!

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  21. carole p

    'Obama ad a hit'
    well I for one watched it because I wanted to see if this arrogant self centered candidate could come off authetic for even one minute out of the 30 I am sure I was ont the only person watching who felt that way

    Hey has anyone read the article on Fox about how Obama's family in Chicago lives in POVERTY! His Uncle was evicted for 2000.00$ back rent Ya think maybe Obama could have paid it for him????
    His Auntie says she can't talk about him till after the election???
    What's that about has she been warned to shut up???

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. sam

    To Rfeefo. Have you been living under a rock for the last 8 years. Millions of people have already lost their jobs under your Bush and McCain. They are the Socialist. You are a total ignorant idiot. Your Bush has taken everything from this country.

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. Rena

    What Bert and it wasn't wreckless spending when they spent 150K on Palin and her family just for her to parade around and spew hate. What her kids have to do with this election. Why did they spend bundles of money on them? He used campaign money for campaigning, you do understand that's the whole purpose of him raising the money and that's to campaign and put out ads. Campaign money is not for you to go on a shopping spree.

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  24. Ann

    THE MORE THEY SLING MUD AT OBAMA THE MORE SUPPORT HE GETS. As a black man he is the underdog, not that white aired one.

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. Cleveland voter

    One more thing. By not accepting public funding, he took a chance that he wouldn't be able to get enough donations to fund his campaign. Would the repubs have so much to say if he hadn't pulled in so much money?

    Jealousy is never a good look.

    October 30, 2008 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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