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. A Woman In California For Obama

    Even though I was at work when it first aired, I caught it later in the evening and I enjoyed it. How sad people can NEVER REALLY retire anymore. It shed a lot of light on ordinary people who are working three jobs just to make ends meet. As a single parent , I can relate to their struggles and it makes me mad every time I hear McCain say "I will put the government on a budget just as YOU are on a budget." Yes, McCain WE are on a budget and most of us have been for years now which is why WE don't want someone like YOU who knows nothing about that subject.

    Congratulations to the Obama/Biden team for money well spent and for giving us a little peep into those lives of others. I'm glad MY money was well spent. I hope it translates into votes. DON'T FORGET TO VOTE. I can't wait until Tuesday to cast mine.

    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Susan

    Should be..........he has spent over 7 MILLION dollars on TV ads.

    7 MILLION could go a long way to help our country's problems.

    A Democrat

    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  3. Pat the Plumber

    A full court press by Obama. Brilliant! He's got his opponent up against the backboard.

    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  4. cindy

    Don't let anything or anyone stop you from voting for Obama!!!!

    Not rain, not news about fraud (that news if a fraud), not long lines!!!

    Obama for President!!!!!


    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. chad in avery, ca.

    obama made his case in a smart and controlled manner.
    never mentioned his opponet once, yet on either side of the program
    we saw mccain spewing venom and hate in his commercials and
    then on the news.
    i think it gave undecideds a good comparison of the two men and
    how they conduct themselves.
    obama is calm and thoughtful and mccain is angry and hatefull.

    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. AL

    This is what you do when you have a brain in your head and a team of serious people who want to better America.
    When you don't have a clue to ask Sarah Palin to tag along, you invite Joe the plumber to your party and he is a no show and all you do is wine, wine, wine about everything and anything. McShame do you have cheese to go with that..

    October 30, 2008 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  7. FLORIDA for Obama

    Obama/Biden '08 AND '12
    Barack Obama and Joe Biden
    The Answer Is Black AND White

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. Patmos Isle

    More razzmatazz from the consummate showman! All he needed was a cane and some tap shoes...'Bama, if you really had the goods, you wouldn't have to be making so many closing arguments. You're lucky there are so many desparate people out there thanks to your boys (George W. et al).

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. PA Voter

    I can't wait for this chapter of "Elections" to be over, and for us to look forward to an Obama Administration. Please, God, Please!!!!


    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  10. Deb

    I guess it is inpsiring to see at least one candidate tell us what he will do for us and how. Not once did Senator Obama, our future President, have to tell us about John McCain and he never, ever needs to mention Sara Palin. If he runs the country the way he has run this campaign we are in for great surprises and I am confident are future will become bright again.

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Becky CA

    I watched yesterday on NBC and loved the ad.

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Celebrate Good Times !


    I knew it would be a success. I loved the lighting, the people were very poignant, and Barack's narration was great.

    Fabulous job, we will win the White House back!

    Yes, We Can.

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  13. FreeNLovIt

    Since I was watching him for two years and know everything, I was bored out of my mind. He should have closed it with a BIG WIDE SMILE and few words from Bill Clinton.


    McCain's 3 seconds ad was more effective..

    October 30, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  14. Reality

    How could anyone not vote for him after seeing that 30 minute show. It was AWESOME and shows how much he really really care about this great country !!!

    OBAMA is AWESOME !!! and will become one of the BEST Presidents of all time !!! 🙂

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  15. paul in iowa

    Not only was the MONEY WELL SPENT.....his speech to the American public was inspiring........however, since this was an "info commercial", McCain should not have received air time from any network ESPECIALLY FROM CNN..........if McCain wanted "air time", he should have paid for it just like Obama did.....

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  16. Mike

    I admit I have been an Obama supporter for sometime now. I had been in support of Hill when she was running. I warmed to Obama after it was clear he was getting the nomination. But now, after this message last night, I realize that Obama was the right choice for this party from the beginning. I was moved by the stories and the way he handled each of the issues. The thing that impressed me the most was how nothing was said against McCain, or the GOP. As Obama spoke, I realized It was all about him and actually – it was really all about us. He was humble and real and I truly feel he is a remarkable man. I agree with whoever said it above... I am having a new feeling... It is strange... could it be...Hope?

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. No Hillary = No Obama

    Well, since it was the first time a candidate actually had the money to do something like this, is it any wonder if was a ratings success and because it cut into prime time? Give me a break. It was blatant exploitation.

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. Susan, Nebraska

    Boy that changed my mind! I am voting for Obama for sure now. I have been wanting to quit work and now that he is going to spread the wealth, I am not worried about paying my bills anymore. He is going to share your money with me and the Dems are going to share your 401K with me too! Why work?

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. Still for Hill, but voting McCain

    That would be a lot of money for Obama's half-brother in Kenya living on a dollar a day.

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |

    @ xcusme

    Its called sarcasm...evidently I need to make it a little more obvious. If you are at all confused by my intentions, google my name.

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  21. ObamaGirl

    All I have to say...WOW! Obama is the freakin man! I have never been so excited for an election in my life. I thought I was pumped about kerry...but it was nothing like this I am acutally inspired!!!

    Obama/Biden 08/12 GOOOOO Team!!

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  22. banderson

    I hope this compells people to come out and VOTE FOR CHANGE...

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  23. Bill

    I didn't watch the infomercial. I watched the porn video with the Sarah Palin look alike instead. It was way more entertaining.

    The rest of you just watched the preacher preach to the choir. That's a waste of the money you donated.

    I would have been impressed if he starts giving campaign money to charity, if you think he's already won.

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  24. Wendy Button,

    Money well spent. Oh and "Joe" dont spread lies. Obama has raised the bar on all future elections to come.

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  25. Gene

    The commercial was very well done, and I'm actually surprised that he kept it very positive. This would have been a good chance to slam McCain and Palin.. but instead he took the high road on everything.

    As far as the comment about this being a ratings success.. well, kinda hard for it not to be when every station is playing it... I mean what are your choices last night to watch.. Obama's commercial, Nickalodeon, or a DVD 🙂

    October 30, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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