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Fact check: RNC’s first night viewership not as high as posts boast

Fact check: RNC’s first night viewership not as high as posts boast


The claim: The first night of the Republican National Convention had 128.4 million viewers

As the political conventions wound down, posts circulated stating the viewership of the Republican National Convention simply crushed that of its counterpart, the Democratic National Convention. 

“Day 1 DNC : 21.4 Million Viewed. Day 1 RNC : 128.4 Million Views,” a post from the page Absolute Patriot states. Other posts echoed that, with one being shared over 7,000 times (that post has since been deleted). 

The RNC was held the week after the DNC.

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What do the ratings show?

According to the ratings service Nielsen, an estimated 17 million people tuned into the first night of the RNC on TV, while an estimated 19.7 million people watched the first night of the DNC on TV. 

While those numbers do not include the total number of people who streamed the conventions, the author of the post provided no source to back up his claim, and USA TODAY could find no evidence supporting it. 

It appears the RNC figure may have been determined by starting with the reported initial figure for day three viewership of the DNC — 21.4 million.

After numerous commenters panned the post as inaccurate, the poster linked to a tweet by the founder of a far-right website who noted — accurately, according to multiple news reports — that nearly six times as many people streamed the start of the RNC than the DNC on C-SPAN — 440,000 views to 76,000 views. 

If you take 21.4 million and multiply it by six — to mirror that C-SPAN number — you get 128.4 million.

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The person who created the deleted post did not respond to a query from USA TODAY about the source for the figure. When challenged numerous times by commenters who linked to the correct figures, he generally responded “fake news.”

USA TODAY has reached out to the Absolute Patriot page for comment. 

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Our rating: False 

We rate this claim as FALSE, because it is not supported by our research. Data confirms that neither party topped 20 million TV viewers on day one of their respective conventions — a figure over 100 million shy of the figure claimed for the GOP convention. In fact, no TV program has ever hit 128 million viewers nationwide. . 

Our fact-check sources: 

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: RNC’s first night viewership not as high as posts boast



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