So how many people really watched the conventions?

Both conventions have drawn to a close, the balloons (and confetti) have been swept up and the participants have boarded their planes and gone back home. For those of us who tend to soak in politics 24/7 it probably seemed like there was nothing else on television for the last two weeks. But how many of the non-politically obsessed actually tuned in, and which networks delivered the kind of coverage that brought eyeballs to the small screen? For the answers, we go to the watchdogs over at TV By The Numbers, who track shows of all types every day of the year.

In terms of the raw numbers, it appears that Team Obama gets to chalk one up in the win column, and for once we don’t need to parse sample rates, D/R/I figures or any of that. The big party for the Democrats drew more viewers over the three day run, with the final night drawing 35.7 million viewers across all networks.(That’s down 2.7 million from the Hope and Change Express party in 2008.) In the other corner, the Republicans had a somewhat smaller draw across their big week, with the finale pulling in 30.3 million viewers. Strangely, that figure was actually down 8 million from John McCain’s final night in 2008 in a year when all indicators showed the lion’s share of “excitement index” to be on the President’s side. Don’t ask me to explain that one, because I can’t.

But which network delivered the goods for the RNC? It won’t come as much of a surprise that it was once again Fox.

With data for all six days of convention coverage now in, FOX News Channel has the highest average ratings among Total Viewers (5.337 million) for combined coverage of both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. The channel’s extremely high ratings for coverage of the RNC were strong enough to overcome its sixth place finish for each night of the DNC to result in an overall top average rating, outperforming not only CNN and MSNBC but ABC, CBS and NBC.

NBC had the largest total share spread over both conventions, but during the three days of the RNC, Fox simply crushed everyone else. However, if we take the normal assumption that we have Fox on one end and MSNBC on the other, one might think that the House That Rachel Maddow Built would pick up the slack on the other end, right? (Particularly given the rock star treatment their team received in Charlotte, as I wrote about this morning.) But… not so much.

MSNBC had the lowest 6 day average among Total Viewers (2.972 million) and Adults 25-54 (1.012 million.

If you dig into the detailed stats, though, even MSNBC managed to shine a few times. During the President’s speech in the 10-11 PM eastern time slot, they rang up 4.5 million to Fox’s 2.9 million, so every dog has their day. The real surprise in that slice of the analysis? The winner for that time slot was CNN with 5.5 million. You do the math and let me know what the explanation for that one is.