John McCain outdrew Barack Obama’s acceptance speech by about half a million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. An estimated 38.9 million people watched McCain’s speech, compared with 38.4 million for Obama—and 37.2 million for McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin. (George Bush in 2004 is a mere footnote, at 27.5 million.)
Obama (and Palin) may demand a recount—or, at least, credit the season-opening NFL game on NBC, which, the Hollywood Reporter notes, brought the networks’ convention coverage 13.6 million viewers.
All of which goes to show that if you want to draw a big crowd, football is the key: whether it’s a speech at Mile-High Stadium, a Hail Mary of a VP pick, or simply putting on a postgame show. And you wonder why political reporters use so many football metaphors. Now on to the playoffs!
[Update: TV Decoder notes that, if you add in PBS—2.7 million for McCain, 3.5 million for Obama—you get roughly a tie, give or take. Oh dear God, it's the Democratic primary all over again. We demand the PBS delegation be seated!]
[Update 2: As commenter CMR reminds me, BET and TV One also carried Obama's speech, further complicating matters. But I don't have the breakdown of how many watched either individual network. Also, they use the caucus system.]