(Corrects 9th paragraph to show Perot ran similar ad in 1996
as well as 1992)
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES Oct 30 Barack Obama's campaign
"infomercial" drew 26.4 million viewers to three major
networks, proving modestly more popular than typical prime-time
programming, preliminary figures showed on Thursday.
The Democratic presidential candidate's 30-minute message
on Wednesday night garnered 2.1 million more viewers on CBS,
NBC and Fox combined than those three networks drew in the same
half-hour last Wednesday, according to Nielsen Media Research.
For NBC and CBS, the Obama ad marked an audience bump of 43
percent and 11 percent respectively over last week's action
drama "Knight Rider" (7 million viewers) and the sitcom "The
New Adventures of Old Christine" (7.8 million).
Fox did better last week with its World Series pre-game
broadcast -- 9.6 million viewers.
The climax to Wednesday's baseball championship was delayed
by 15 minutes to allow Fox to air the Obama ad without
interrupting its coverage of the game.
The infomercial drew fewer than half the 57.4 million
viewers averaged by the three recent presidential debates
between Obama and Republican rival John McCain which aired on
11 commercial networks in all.
The Obama ad also was carried on the Spanish-language
broadcaster Univision and cable channels MSNBC, BET and TV. No
viewership figures were immediately available from those.
The infomercial blended pre-taped segments of Obama
directly addressing viewers with a video montage of the nominee
on the campaign trail and ordinary Americans of their economic
struggles. It concluded with Obama addressing a live campaign
rally in Florida.
It was a throwback to a political advertising strategy that
was common in the 1950s and '60s and marked the first such paid
national political telecast since Ross Perot ran a series
during his independent bids for president in 1992 and 1996.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Alan Elsner)