By Jeff Labrecque
August 31, 2012 at 08:27 PM EDT
Patrick Semansky/AP Photo

Mitt Romney has always had to work hard to prove himself to the heart of the Republican Party, but more than 25.2 million people tuned in to the major networks and cable news stations to witness his well-received acceptance speech, making his the most watched hour of the convention, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Enthusiasm — at least from a television perspective — continued to lag behind 2008, when John McCain and Sarah Palin were on the Republican ticket. McCain spoke to almost 39 million television viewers when he accepted his party’s nomination four years ago. This isn’t the 2008 election, which was unusual and highly contentious, in part because it was the first election that did not feature an incumbent or sitting vice-president in 40 years and in part because it featured two trailblazing candidates: Palin and Barack Obama. It will be interesting to see how the softer ratings impact the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. next week.

In the race for ratings, Fox News was again the big winner, drawing 9.1 million viewers during the 10 o’clock window that featured special guest Clint Eastwood, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Romney. In a distant second, ABC received a huge boost, with 55 percent more viewers — 4.4 million — tuning in compared to Wednesday night’s audience, when Rep. Paul Ryan made his speech. Their gains seemed to be at the cost of NBC, which surprisingly saw its viewership sag from Wednesday night.

Click below for the complete figures:

8-11 p.m. Primetime Coverage

FNC: 6,609,548 viewers (1,627,349 in 25-54)

CNN: 1,657,584 viewers (580,648 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 1,567,633 viewers (464,809 in 25-54)

10-11 p.m. Coverage

FNC: 9,057,093 viewers (2,575,383 in 25-54)

ABC: 4,442,908,000 viewers (1,612,407 in 25-54)

NBC: 3,847,498 viewers (1,463,902 in 25-54)

CBS: 3,729,691 viewers (1,506,553 in 25-54)

CNN: 2,327,376 viewers (903,838 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 1,876,459 viewers (625,712 in 25-54)

Read more:

How did Mitt do?

Celebs react to Clint Eastwood’s speech

RNC ratings: Paul Ryan can’t top Palin’s TV numbers