NEW YORK — The first night of the Republican National Convention drew an estimated 22.3 million television viewers, the vast majority over age 55.

The Nielsen ratings company said Wednesday that the audience, spread over nine TV networks, was down from the 23.1 million who watched the first full night of the 2008 convention, which nominated John McCain to run for president against eventual winner Barack Obama. Seven networks showed the 2008 convention, with CNBC and Current TV the newcomers this year.

The Nielsen Co. said that nearly 15 million viewers Tuesday night were age 55 or over. Meanwhile, the total of viewers aged 18 to 34 was only 1.5 million on the nine networks.

Fox News Channel, with 6.9 million viewers, beat all the other networks during the 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. EDT hour when they all competed. Fox also beat the three big broadcasters during the Republican conventions in 2004 and 2008.

NBC was second to Fox with 4.8 million viewers, Nielsen said. CBS had 3.1 million viewers, and ABC had 2.9 million. CNN and MSNBC had 1.5 million each, and PBS had 1.3 million.

Nielsen does not measure the audience for C-SPAN, which also offered a convention feed.

Nielsen did not immediately have figures on how many people followed the convention, being held in Tampa, Fla., via video streams instead.

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