You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBC is ratings winner on Election Night

CBS remains third but is only major net up from 2008

NBC was the ratings leader on Election Night while CBS appears to be the only broadcaster to improve upon its performance of four years ago. And on the cable side, CNN and Fox News both drew large auds — but they’re headed in opposite directions.

CNN, which has suffered massive ratings decline over the last few years, drew the largest audience for the period of 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET, according to Nielsen.

It averaged 8.8 million viewers and 4.3 million in the 25-54 demo, which is most appealing to the newsies. Just a tad behind in total viewers was Fox News with 8.7 million viewers overall, though it lagged well behind in the 25-54 demo (3.4 million). MSNBC drew 4.6 million, including 2 million in the demo.

During the more traditional 8-11 p.m. primetime hours, where it typically dominates its cable news rivals, FNC hit an all-time high with 11.45 million viewers, peaking with 11.8 million in the 10 o’clock hour. CNN averaged 9.25 million, and MSNBC pulled 4.67 million. (CNN did edge out FNC in primetime among adults 25-54).

Indicative of the ratings trajectories for both networks in recent years, Fox News saw its primetime election audience surge 27% vs. 2008 (9.04 million) while CNN faded by 25% (from 12.30 million). In 2008, CNN outdrew FNC by more than 3 million viewers.

MSNBC was down 21% (from 5.89 million in 2008).

The election was called for Obama at approximately 11:15 p.m. ET, just as Fox News contributor Karl Rove was disputing his own network’s decision of putting the crucial state of Ohio in the column for President Barack Obama. Roughly 11.5 million were watching the cabler during the Rove brouhaha, a number that was probably helped by Twitter users encouraging followers to switch to FNC.

The preliminary affiliate-based numbers released Wednesday by Nielsen for the broadcasters include breaks for local programming and are thus subject to revision. Nielsen was unable to finish processing Tuesday night data on Wednesday, and instead will issue final numbers Thursday.

According to the prelims, NBC’s coverage averaged a 4.6 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 (down 2% from four years ago) and 12.6 million viewers overall. ABC ran second with a 3.8/8 in the demo (down 19% from 2008) and 11.1 million viewers overall. CBS remained third (2.7/6 in 18-49, 8.4 million viewers overall), but it continues to see improvement with Scott Pelley front and center; the Eye was up 8% from four years ago

Fox (2.0/4 in 18-49, 5.0 million viewers overall) was down 9% from 2008.

Comparisons to 2008 were not available for Univision, whose coverage Tuesday averaged a 1.4/3 in 18-49 and 3.5 million viewers overall.

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox combined for an average audience of 37.1 million viewers in primetime Tuesday — nearly identical to the 36.6 million who watched the same networks’ entertainment lineups a week ago. The big week-to-week gains are instead expected to be seen on cable outlets CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.

According to viewing levels from Nielsen, 45.2% of adults 18-49 were watching television Tuesday night, an increase of 17% from last Tuesday. The biggest tune-in came among adults 55 and older, where 61.5% were watching. Among persons 12-34, 37.9% watched, and among adults 25-54 it was 50.2%.

More TV

  • Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet

    Endemol Shine, China’s Hunan TV Duet on ‘Sing or Spin’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Global production and distribution giant Endemol Shine is to duet with leading Chinese producer and broadcaster Hunan TV on primetime entertainment format “Sing or Spin,” which has an innovative spin: a revolving stage that lets singers know how well they are scoring. The show has been co-developed by Endemol Shine China and Hunan TV as [...]

  • 'Succession': Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen on

    'Succession' Stars Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen Break Down How To Make a Tomelette

    You can’t make a Tomelette without breaking some Greggs, and you can’t get through an episode of ‘Succession’ without a few rounds of riffing, at least according to Nicholas Braun (who plays Greg Hirsch) and Matthew Macfadyen (who portrays Tom Wamsgans). “We basically improv in probably every scene to some capacity,” says Braun. Though the [...]

  • Manchester City Football Club Animated Series

    Manchester City Soccer Team Animated Series in the Works (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Sky Blue Academy,” an animated series set inside the training academy of reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City, is in the works, Variety has learned. The Pep Guardiola-managed team has enjoyed numerous successes in recent years and broken into world soccer’s elite, becoming a global brand in the process. The show will follow a [...]


    TV Review: 'Living with Yourself'

    Paul Rudd is such a naturally ebullient actor that it can be startling to see him ground down. A gifted physical performer who, at 50, looks so youthful that his appearance tends to precede all other attributes when he’s discussed, Rudd also still has the verve and energy of a rising star — a quality [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA Signs Cooperative Agreement With Mexican

    SAG-AFTRA Signs Cooperative Agreement With Mexican Actors Union

    SAG-AFTRA has signed a cooperative agreement that could include joint bargaining with the Asociación Nacional de Actores (ANDA), the labor union that represents performers in Mexico. The pact was announced Saturday during the third day of the SAG-AFTRA biannual convention at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Ca. The convention, which is closed to [...]

  • American screenwriter, film director, and producer

    AGC Television Picks up Worldwide on Oliver Stone’s ‘JFK: Destiny Betrayed’

    CANNES —  AGC Television, the TV production-distribution division of Stuart Ford’s still fast expanding independent content studio AGC Studios, has landed worldwide rights to another high-profile doc-series which it describes as “probing” and “explosive”: Oliver Stone’s “JFK: Destiny Betrayed.” The acquisition was announced early Monday by AGC Television president Lourdes Diaz. The acquisition continues AGC [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content