Ratings: Election Night Slightly Below 2008; CNN Edges Out Fox News, NBC Tops Networks

Obama Re-Elected PresidentThe major broadcast networks’ coverage of Election Night on Tuesday amassed 37.1 million total viewers, putting the audience just a flag in the hair below the night that Barack Obama was first elected President of the United States (when 38 million people tuned in).

NBC and its purty ice-rink map led the Big 4 with an audience of 12.6 million total viewers (up 5 percent versus 2008), followed by ABC’s 11.1 mil (down 15 percent). CBS drew 8.4 million (up 8 percent), while Fox was flat at 5 mil.

With cable news channels factored in, the coverage back in 2008 wound up totaling more than 71 million total viewers; this year the grand total was (UPDATE) 66.8 mil.

RELATED | Election Night 2012: The Good, the Bad and the… What Was Up With Diane Sawyer?!

In the 18-49 demo, the broadcast networks this cycle averaged a 3.3 rating, down two tenths from 2008. Individually, it shook out like this:
* NBC 4.6 (dipping a tenth)
* ABC 3.8 (down 19 percent)
* CBS 2.7 (up two tenths)
* Fox 2.0 (down two tenths, though Karl Rove is contesting the report)

On the cable side, CNN averaged 8.8 million viewers from 7 pm-2 am/EST, putting it slightly ahead of rival Fox News (8.7 million). MSNBC ranked third with 4.6 million.

Which channel, broadcast or cable, got your vote on Tuesday night?

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40 Comments
  1. Drewer says:

    I’m surprised ABC dropped, by far they had the most entertaining coverage-everyone else had me falling asleep. Maybe people were just turned off by Katie Curics reading of the celebutweet.

  2. ktbanks says:

    NBC all the way. The special brand of snarky humor which Brian Williams possesses will get me to tune in every time.

    • WWP says:

      Yeah, it was Brian all the way. He balanced it all well, with the right combination of seriousness and humor. My favorite part of the whole evening was when some producer obviously told him he had to report on the increasingly demented and paranoid ramblings of Donald Trump and in an irritated voice Brian said, “Donald Trump has driven WELL past the exit to relevance,”

      And Tom Brokaw and Chuck Todd were excellent as well.

      • Danielle says:

        “So *that* happened.” Lol. That coupled with a few of his remarks to Chuck was more than enough to keep it on NBC last night. Love him.

      • Angela says:

        He actually said that about Trump? Hahahaha, that’s fantastic-I like him even more now :). I’m sorry I missed out on seeing that.
        I watched ABC, myself, but it was mainly background noise. Most of my checking up was being done online. And then I watched Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s coverage.

  3. Elf says:

    Everyone loves Brian WIlliams. That is all.

  4. Kerry says:

    I flipped between NBC and ABC. I liked that ABC was a lot more transparent about what % of districts were reported in, but NBC had the better coverage overall.

  5. wrstlgirl says:

    I basically flipped around all night but spent majority of my viewing on ABC—two words, Diane Sawyer. The faces her co-workers were making every time she spoke were priceless!

  6. Forwarddad says:

    CNN – Andersonm, Wolf and John King. Though I dud flip to NBC. CNN was almost overally cautious in calling states.

    • Lindsey says:

      Same here- CNN but flipped to NBC occasionally.

    • dan says:

      Wolf was yelling too loud (he needs to modulate that trumpet voice to a lower level and speak with some inflection in his voice), but CNN was generally good. CBS was dull, informative yet enjoyable (I get a kick out of Bob Shieffer and Nora O’Donnell looked awesome in red). I can’t stand Brian Williams as a news anchor, but as a talk show guest he is great. Tried to watch ABC for a few minutes; got a headache with so much “stuff” going on in the studio and on the screen. I turned to Fox after the prediction that Obama had been reelected and they had a split screen: on one side was a live shot of cheering Obama supporters with the other side had Karl Rove complaining that Fox called it too early and Ohio was still in play. I assume that Karl is still somewhere telling people that Ohio is going Romney’s way.

      • Nero theTVFiddler says:

        Glad someone mentioned Nora O’Donnell – it’s become a tradition in the family household to park on the sofa and watch the election returns every two years and watch Nora. I used to watch NBC and MSNBC (since 2000 when Nora arrived) just to see Nora, but this year switched over to CBS, following her career arc.

        She is a marvel to watch – I don’t know how she does it. Everyone else is aging [myself included], but after three children, she looks younger than she did five years ago… the unexplainable. It’s good to know in these challenging times, there is still something we can count on – Nora will be as pretty as ever when the next election cycle rolls around. Thank goodness.

  7. John says:

    Lol @ the Rove mention. That was a hilarious bit of television.

  8. Caitlin says:

    watched online livestream of phillip defranco last night :)

  9. Bebe says:

    Watched CNN until Jon Stewart came on.

  10. Jessica says:

    I watched mainly MSNBC and CNN, but after they called the election for Obama I switched to FOX to see how they reacted and saw Karl Rove implode. I thought he was so disrespectful to his own co-workers. I didn’t watch ABC, which I now am upset about becaue I’ve read about how wacky Diane Sawyer was and I would have loved to have seen it!

  11. Bea says:

    Mainly CNN, flipping to BBC.

  12. JR says:

    Flipped around a bit but mostly watched NBC where they accurately predicted the states much earlier than the rest of the networks.

    • dan says:

      Actually, CBS was very aggressive in calling states earlier than anybody else (even NBC). CNN seemed to be the most conservative (iroinic, I know) in calling states and races.

  13. Ashlyn says:

    Can someone shed light on what Diane Sawyer was doing?

    • Nero theTVFiddler says:

      I think she was just worn out – too many long days and nights in preparation for the election. This may have been her final presidential election coverage. I like her; however, she does have both George S and Katie waiting in the wings to take her place – probably just before 2016 election, where she can do a final Bob Schieffer-like farewell tour [?]

  14. Clau says:

    Brian WIlliams <<<<

  15. Alex says:

    Watched CNN all night, their coverage with their fancy touch screen map thing was fantastic.

    • Mae says:

      haha I know! John King must sleep with his arms around it. And the one time Wolf came up to touch it, King gave him the death glare like “don’t touch my screen”. I’ve been watching CNN for years, and I swear King hasn’t left that touchscreen board since the last election!

      • dan says:

        That touchscreen ruined his marriage to Dana Bash (yes, he and the Congressional reporter were married but are now separated/divorced).

  16. Mae says:

    Watched CNN all night, until they projected Obama won. Then flipped it over to “fair and balanced” Fox. Loved seeing Karl Rove scrambling for ways that Romney could still win. I knew once Florida, a state I thought Romney could win, was close SO early in the evening that Barack would win! So happy today! Even better seeing all the repubers all depressed today. Especially the ones who said Romney would win 300+ electorally. Only in your dreams, tea partiers!

    • dan says:

      I’m from Florida and I thought for sure we’d go for Romney. I was also surprised when the early numbers showed Obama ahead; Romney pulled even for a little while and then Obama took over and is still ahead (we’re still counting votes down in S. Florida…how sad is that?). The best part was everybody trying to figure out how Romney could catch up in Florida until they realized that all the conservative counties had reported 100% and the only votes left to be counted were in the more liberal-leaning counties.

      • Ryan says:

        I’m still not sure how Obama won Florida. I only saw one Obama sign in Orlando at all this year… Everyone around here was waving the Romney flag high.

  17. Draven says:

    Now That its over how about the just do the job we sent them there for. Yes I voted for Romney but I really don”t care who one just fix the problems and stop making us a laughing stock to the rest of the world

  18. Ann says:

    Hope Obama doesn’t spend the next 4 years complaining about the messs he inherited from himself!

    • GoGiants says:

      Why not? The Republicans still whine about Clinton and Carter. Oh, that’s right. Different standards for the right.

    • Ryan says:

      They blame everything on Bush because they don’t even know what’s going on. An Obama supporter at work was saying yesterday that he wish he’d bought some stocks before Obama won cause he knows the economy is going to improve so much now. He had no idea the DOW is down 400 points from Tuesday. He then asked why I thought it was down and I told him it was probably fear of the Fiscal Cliff. He asked what the Fiscal Cliff was…. I think a lot of people voted without even knowing what we’re facing as a country. Obama also led a very strong campaign saying Romney was against women’s right and was going to get rid of abortion when that was never something brought up by Republicans (in case you didn’t know, abortion isn’t really an issue anymore, no one is able to strip that away now without a constitutional amendment which requires congress to have 2/3 vote and then 3/4 of states to ratify it).

      • Angela says:

        Obama also led a very strong campaign saying Romney was against women’s right and was going to get rid of abortion when that was never something brought up by Republicans

        Uhhhhh, so I guess you completely missed out on the news stories this year involving Akin and Mourdock and their comments about rape and how women who get pregnant as a result of that should deal with it instead of having an abortion? I guess you missed the “personhood amendments” certain states tried to get implemented? Or the debate over whether or not women should be able to have birth control covered, because apparently using birth control to help us avoid unplanned pregnancies is somehow a bad thing now, or something?
        You are correct, though, that it’d be very hard to overturn the legal right to have an abortion. Which begs the question then why Republicans feel an incessant need to try and act like they’re going to pass laws banning it altogether every election cycle, and continue to try and make it a big issue (especially given how they supposedly claim to just HATE it when the government gets involved so deeply in an issue. Apparently women’s health issues are exempt from that, though, I guess).

  19. Dave says:

    I flipped around a lot trying to find a newcaster, anyone….to report the news and not inject their personal political preferance. Still looking for a true unbiased news reporter. I guess those days are gone.

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