At least 21 million television viewers watched the Democratic convention Monday night, when Michelle Obama spoke about her husband and her family, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Television ratings are often used to judge the amount of attention Americans are giving to the political conventions. The numbers for the first night suggest that slightly more viewers are watching this year than in 2004, when the Democratic convention drew an average of 21 million viewers.
The ratings show viewers drifting toward cable news: CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC posted double-digit increases in audience over the 2004 convention, while the broadcast networks declined (with the exception of NBC, which benefited from a lead-in of 7.5 million viewers for "America's Toughest Jobs").
The broadcast networks NBC, ABC and CBS attracted an audience of 12 million, with NBC leading the pack with 4.7 million viewers. In another sign of the increasing popularity of cable channels for news coverage, CNN attracted more viewers -- 4.2 million -- than ABC or CBS for the hour. ABC drew 4.17 million and CBS averaged 3.46 million at the same hour.