Conventions a Hit on Social Media, Not TV

-By Warner Todd Huston

TV viewing of the GOP convention dropped sharply over its 2008 counterpart and there is little reason to expect that the Democrat convention will fare any better this year. But the Republican’s affair was a big hit on social media and that will likely be mirrored this week for the Democrats.

According to Nielson, TV ratings for the GOP convention tallied to about 30.3 million viewers this year. Compared to 2008’s convention ratings of 39 million viewers, that is a 23 percent drop in viewership.

But online, the GOP convention saw an uptick from the 2008 events. The Republican National Committee reported some 2.8 million viewers via its live streaming video on its Youtube page and, while viewing numbers aren’t known, there were many, many other outlets that offered a live stream of the convention.

Twitter, too, saw a deluge in communications of the event.

In 2008 Twitter reported that both conventions combined saw only 365,000 tweets abut the events. This year, the GOP convention alone drew over five million tweets.

Romney’s speech also became the most tweeted event of 2013 that night peaking at 14,300 tweets per minute. This topped Obama’s January State of the Union speech that saw only 14,100 tweets per minute.

Twitter’s director of government and news, Adam Sharp, said that Twitter is ideal because it allows news consumers to use more than one news outlet at a time.

“You are no longer tethered to that screen in your living room or anywhere else — you can actively participate in these events while you’re in line at the supermarket or waiting for the bus. It’s incredibly transforming and freeing,” Sharp said.

All this is sure to repeat this week during the Democrat convention. The pressure is on. Can Obama’s acceptance speech top Romney’s Twitter rate?
“The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”
–Samuel Johnson

Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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