Sarah Palin

AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

Sarah Palin just might have been bigger than Barack Obama.

More than 37 million watched the surprise vice presidential pick's speech at last night's Republican National Convention, Nielsen Media Research said.

Last week, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama delivered his stadium-sized speech to a TV audience of a Nielsen-tabulated 38.4 million.

But channel for channel, Palin was the bigger draw.

Obama's speech averaged 3.8 million viewers for each of the 10 broadcast and cable networks counted by Nielsen. Palin's speech, which was carried live by four fewer networks, averaged 6.2 million.

Taking her Nielsen number as is, Palin, like Obama, was bigger than this past year's Oscars, the last American Idol finale and every night of the Summer Olympics. And she blew away the ratings put up last week by Democratic V.P. candidate Joe Biden (24 million).

As with Obama, it's unknown how many watched Palin on the Internet, or on a noncommercial network, such as CSPAN.

In addition to Palin, last night's 10 p.m. (ET) Republican convention hour featured former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Since scuttling its Monday prime-time show in deference to Hurricane Gustav, the GOP convention, powered by Palin, has averaged 29.4 million viewers.

By comparison, the Democratic convention, which had run a full three days at this same point last week, was averaging 24.1 million going into Obama's address.

Tonight, the focus moves to Republican presidential hopeful John McCain, who's due to deliver his own speech, and, in the process, try to put up numbers as big as Obama. And Palin.

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