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. McCain/Palin

    WENDY BUTTON IS NOT SENATOR OBAMA'S SPEECHWRITER, SHE WAS JOHN EDWARDS' SPEECHWRITER. If you're going to spew lies, stop trying to involve Senator Obama in EVERY SINGLE LIE you tell (and get your facts straight the next time).

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. Geez

    Give me a break! All you numb-nuts out there talking about Obama's "terrorist pals." I guess you've forgotten about Keating, and that McPain gave $500K to the same PLO adviser...and what about Palin and "THE DUDE" wanting to make Alaska their own country. Get a life. The tide is changing, and you're getting washed out to sea! This white, Christian, Republican, voted early in FL for "THAT ONE". The only candidate who is truly Presidential...Barack Obama.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Positive in NC

    Great job! Glad my donation could contribute to sharing Obama's positive message. Yes, We Can!

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Cindy- St. Louis

    How could we not be moved when motivated to act as our "better selves" rather than our "shadow selves"?

    Hope, optimisim and truth will eventually win out.


    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. djak

    I watched it, even though I have already voted. It was a brilliant move that was aimed at reaching viewers in all the battleground states at once. Not one mention of McCain or any negativity in this ad which only supports the fact that Obama has real ideas, and is not out to smear the other guy.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. reggie

    Obama does what he does best...TALK. I want a president who walks the walk NOT talks the talk.
    McCain is the only real choice!!!

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. rahepee

    Love him or hate him, you've got to admit, this guy's a genius regarding how to run a successful campaign. He's blowing the pants off of McCain. It's like the future is here, and all the old methods of running a campaign are obsolete. If the GOP doesn't learn from this, they are doomed to go as extinct as the do-do bird.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. John

    WOW, last night was powerful. I saw my story in one of those families.

    I am glad I voted for Obama/Biden this year.

    I was at the Sunrise,Florida location and so many people waited to get in and I am so glad I was there.

    Give Obama a chance.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  9. Raleigh, NC

    Anti-Obama people are all the same.....negative; that's why your candidate is behind. McCain's campaign has been nothing but negative. Obama conveyed a great message last night. He showed us that it's not about him.... it's about the American people. He understands the serious problems that this nation is facing and is committed to helping solve them.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  10. sykor

    Well done, as expected. No name calling,no put-downs, no sarcasm.
    If nothing else, it raised the level of discourse above eigth grade.
    I pray that Obama will be elected so that our children will learn that you can win without playing dirty.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. Karen

    Joe – I guess you know more than CNN since you are reporting it. I wonder where you got your information. Was it the McCain campaign.

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. Momo

    Joe is looking for a wife, of cause he'd show up.

    Mr. Palin watch out!

    October 30, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |

    I love it. We SHALL OVER COME. We shall over come these scrupulous BUSH ECONOMICS and FAILED POLICIES. For all of you Obama HATERS, you will be the first GREEDY CRUMB SNATCHERS trying to get a PIECE OF THE PIE when things are back on Good Street, SO JUST SHUT UP AND GET ON BOARD. We are headed for THE GOOD OLE DAYS !! And if you still don't like it, PLEASE, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT – DON'T EAT, JUST STARVE LIKE YOU'VE BEEN DOING !!

    October 30, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. Caligirl

    I completely agree with VOTER @ 3:18 pm. Senator Obama presented 30 minutes of yet another example of a well-organized and extrememly positive campaign. This is the 1st time in a long time that I am excited to cast my vote on Tuesday. May God bless America and may the people elect Obama and Biden.

    October 30, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. Chuck, Tennessee

    To GP

    What do you mean that Obama says government is not the answer? He may utter those words, but every proposal he espouses involves more government to fix the problem. Neither candidate seems to really believe in smaller, less intrusive government, as evidenced by their votes on the bailout.

    October 30, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Oakbrook, IL

    To all UNDECIDED Voters:
    Give Obama a chance. You can fire him in 2012 if he didn't do his job well.

    October 30, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. No need

    He's already had my vote for a while. However, it was very well-done.

    Obama-Biden 2008

    October 30, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  18. deb

    The "ordinary folks" paid for this ad, McCain, NOT big corporate money! I, for one, gave my small amount of $75 to HELP GET OBAMA ELECTED! That's the purpose of donating to a campaign. Obama collected money from all the little "joes" out there, the REAL people of this country who really want COUNTRY FIRST. McCain/Palin are narcissists who just want the glory of being President/Vice President. Obama CARES about this country and is trying to do THE RIGHT THING. His message was uplifting and positive, just the opposite of everything McCain/Palin say or stand for.

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. Don't Be Fooled

    I'm glad you all enjoyed watching last night. I did not watch – and I will tell you why.

    Yes, on the one hand, I am voting for John McCain – so there was a part of me that didn't want to give the Obama campaign the satisfaction of increasing their ratings.

    On the other hand, I couldn't bring myself to watch a 30 minute tribute to the most egregious narcissist of our time, paid for with millions of dollars of illegal campaign contributions. Do you Obama supporters not know that his website is intentionally designed so as to allow illegal contributions from falsified people, using falsified addresses? You defend the fact that he backed out on his deal with the American people that he would accept public financing, but can you defend his morals? Just because he is a father and husband does not mean he is the caliber of person who we should trust to be the leader of the free world.

    I don't trust him. Neither should you.

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Dana Knight

    I'm a 34 yr old white man living in the deep south...where the color of a mans skin certainly will play a factor in the election. Most here won't admit it however it is deeply embedded in a tradition and generation of hate. Unless you're straight, white, Catholic and/or Baptist you are nothing in the eyes of the generational ignorance here. Barack Obama makes me feel so proud to be an American...he represents the heart of America. I was moved by his speech...he gives me pride and hope that we as a nation can finally come together. What a great man!

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  21. Brady

    Election for sale!

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  22. NewAmerica

    Did anyone ever think that they would want to see a political ad more than one time? Me neither.

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  23. Johnny the Boy

    I have a hard time coming to grops with the fanatic devotion I see from both sides of the aisle for both of these useless candidates. Start acting like Americans and get off your bottoms and start making the changes yourselves.

    Redistribution of wealth is anti-american. Get out there and get it yourself. Do you really beleive that Obama is gonna stop at couples making $250,000 a year? You are idiots to think so.

    Do you believe drilling for oil is the solution? Make the changes in life that will limit you need for oil McItes.

    These two are nothing more than mouthpieces for their corners of the world. As AMERICANS we shouldn't depend on them to make our lives easier.

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  24. kkelly

    Well done, glad to see my donations went to good use and not to his VP's wardrobe, I making another donation today!

    October 30, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  25. Annie, Atlanta

    To Rfeero – define socialist. Would that be like Sarah spreading the wealth in AK?

    As far as Obama's spot on tv last night, I thought it was fantastic. Now McCain is whining today about Obama not taking public financing. I thought Obama would have agreed to it if McCain did – then McCain wouldn't agree – then Obama decided not to – then McCain decided to. Kicking yourself, eh John, for playing games?

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