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UPDATE 2-Democrats top Republicans in TV viewers for convention's 3rd night

(Updates with final ratings data)

Aug 27 (Reuters) - A total of 17.3 million people watched the third night of the mostly virtual Republican National Convention on Wednesday, according to Nielsen, fewer than the 22.8 million viewers for the third night of last week’s Democratic convention.

The RNC number reflects the audience across 11 TV networks between 10 p.m and 11:15 p.m. EDT during which Vice President Mike Pence was the featured speaker. It does not include online and streaming viewers.

Wednesday night’s RNC audience represented a 26% decline from the same night in 2016.

The virtual Democratic National Convention also experienced a drop in viewers from 2016. Ratings for the third night of the DNC, in which vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris spoke, captured viewers across 10 U.S. TV networks on Aug. 19.

Fox News had the biggest audience for all three nights of this week’s convention, with Democrats topping Republicans in opening-night TV ratings, and Republicans edging Democrats on the second night.

On Wednesday, Pence and others emphasized the night’s “law-and-order” theme, with the vice president repeating the unfounded charge that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden supports liberal activist calls to “defund” the police.

Other RNC speakers, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, spoke of President Donald Trump’s support for women - part of a campaign to portray him as more caring and supportive than his actions, words and tweets have led many to believe.

Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by David Gregorio and Peter Cooney

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