(Reuters) - Melania Trump's big night at the Republican National Convention failed to draw bumper television audiences despite networks boosting their coverage of the gathering and husband Donald Trump promising a "showbiz" feel to the week.

According to Nielsen ratings data on Tuesday from seven leading broadcast and cable networks, an estimated 23 million people watched Monday evening's highlight during the 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. hour when Melania Trump, the wife of Republican White House contender Donald Trump, delivered her speech.

The focus of the convention initially shifted on Tuesday from the formal anointing of Trump to accusations that sections of Melania Trump's speech were strikingly similar to an address by Michelle Obama at the Democratic convention in 2008.

The early viewing figures were similar to those for the first night of the Republican convention in 2012, which attracted an audience of 22.3 million, according to Nielsen.


U.S. television networks have boosted coverage of the Republican convention this year after Trump, a New York businessman, drew huge audiences during the 2016 presidential debates during the state nominating contests. Trump, the former star of "The Apprentice" TV show, has promised to throw out traditional political convention scripts and "put some showbiz" into the mix.

Media analysts predicted that viewership for Trump's acceptance speech this week for the Republican presidential nomination could surpass the record 38 million who watched Barack Obama address the Democratic convention in 2008.

In 2012, the Democratic convention generally drew more nightly TV viewers than the Republican gathering, when Mitt Romney was running for the White House.

On Monday, the Fox News cable channel, as expected, got the most viewers for its convention coverage, averaging 6.4 million in the 10 p.m. hour. Among the mainstream networks, NBC led with 3.9 million.

However, the biggest single program audience of Monday night was for reality show "The Bachelorette," which was seen by some 6.6 million on ABC. About 3 million people turned off when ABC switched to the convention.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant in New York and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler)

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