Biden Draws Biggest Audience of 2020 Democratic Convention

Joe Biden’s formal acceptance of the Democratic Party’s nomination for president of the U.S. drew 24.6 million TV viewers Thursday night, a high for the four-night confab this year.

The audience, across 12 broadcast and cable news channels, rose from Wednesday’s tally of 22.8 million, which was based on 10 networks, according to Nielsen data. Comcast’s Corp.’s MSNBC once again led, with 6.15 million total viewers, with AT&T Inc.’s CNN coming in second with 5.57 million, according to data the networks released earlier. The broadcast began at 10 p.m. New York time.

Biden Draws Biggest Audience of 2020 Democratic Convention

Biden accepted the nomination in a speech that focused on uniting a country wrestling with issues such as the coronavirus and systemic racism. Much of the program focused on the candidate’s life, including the death of his first wife and daughter in a car accident, and the loss of his son Beau to cancer.

“I found the best way through pain and loss and grief is to find purpose,” Biden said. “As God’s children, each of us have a purpose in our lives.”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus provided comic relief. Other speakers included Biden’s primary rivals -- New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and Michael Bloomberg, the majority owner of Bloomberg LP.

The audience for this year’s convention has been smaller than four years ago, when Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential candidate of a major party and 29.8 million tuned in for the final night. Overall, Americans are watching more video online and less on conventional TV. Biden’s campaign said that was the case Monday. This year’s event also had to cope with the absence of a live audience, which took away some of the drama.

The virtual event stood in contrast to prior conventions, where candidates would sometimes speak for an hour or more, according to Marianne Barrett, a professor of journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Instead, the Democrats put on a show with tighter segments and prerecorded messages, more readily sharable on social media.

“It was easier to follow and shorter,” Barrett said, “more along the lines of how we consume media now.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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