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.

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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?