There was considerable buzz on Senator Obama's purchase of 30 minutes of time on several networks and cable channels. It was a bold stroke to dominate prime time nationally with a political message. From what I have read this morning the reviews were very positive and the ad was complimented on the craftsmanship, the message with it focus on a cross section of Americans and its incredibly smooth shift to a live event in Florida.
This morning there were details on the viewership on CBS, Fox and NBC of 26.3 million. There was tremendous interest in hearing and seeing more from Barack. It seems like it was a great move.
Barack Obama’s prime-time infomercial drew 26.3 million viewers across three broadcast networks last night, according to early ratings from Nielsen Media Research.
That number includes data from the top 56 television markets Nielsen rates and only includes viewers who watched the 8 p.m. half-hour special on CBS, NBC and Fox. The number does not include viewers who watched on Univision, MSNBC, BET or TV One, which also aired the ad.
Nielsen will release more comprehensive data this afternoon, and the total audience measure likely will change.
If you missed it:
Obama actually bumped up the performance of the networks!
The Obama special was seen by about 26.4 million viewers across broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. If you add Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, that total climbs to 30.1 million.
Now the tricky question is: What do you compare Obama's ad to? After all, such a national pre-election special hasn’t been attempted in 16 years.
The entertainment programming that usually runs in the slot on those three networks has averaged a cumulative 23.1 million viewers each week since the start of the season -- 12% lower than the Obama ad total. Put another way, the time period averages about 7.7 million viewers and a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating per network. In the preliminary ratings, the ad pulled an average of 9.2 million viewers and a 2.7 average rating per network -- boosting the advertiser-friendly adult demo by 13%.
But the usual shows are comedies and dramas. Can one realistically compare "Knight Rider" to a political ad? That would normally seem unfair -- to the politician. Obama improved NBC's time period average this season by 36% and CBS' by 5%. And keep in mind Obama was competing against himself.
The ad is receiving very positive coverage this morning. The Politico called it a "smoothly produced infomercial" that "weaved together American iconography -- images of amber waves of grain, pickup trucks and American flags -- with portraits of iconic voters, testimonials from politicians and one business figure, footage of Obama speeches and direct appeals from the candidate." The Los Angeles Times says the spot "offered even the swiftest channel-flipper the chance to see Obama looking presidential." The New York Post says "the heavily hyped piece let Obama -- whom Republicans have tried to paint as 'different' and 'foreign' -- reinforce the notion that he's an everyman." The New York Daily News reports, "From its opening image of a rippling field of golden grain to shots of small-town U.S.A., Obama's epic echoed the style pioneered by Ronald Reagan's famous feel-good 'It's Morning in America' ads from his 1984 re-election campaign."
Speaking on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360", CNN analyst David Gergen, conceding that there were some elements of the video he could criticize, said, "At the risk of gushing, I must tell you overall it was extremely well done." On its website, ABC News reported ABC News' Chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos said the infomercial "was worth 'just about every penny.'" In the Washington Post, television critic Tom Shales writes, "Somehow both poetic and practical, spiritual and sensible, the paid political broadcast...was a montage of montages, a series of seamlessly blended segments interweaving the stories of embattled Americans with visions of their deliverer, Guess Who."