Election Night Ratings: CNN Tops Cable For The Night, FNC Tops Cable In Primetime, NBC Tops Broadcast, But Viewership Down From 2008

By Alex Weprin 

The 2012 Presidential election is over, and as was the case in 2008, 10s of millions of Americans turned to TV for their real-time results. That said, it appears as though far fewer people watched the returns last night than did in 2008. It is also worth noting that the 2008 numbers arfe from 8-11 PM, while last night’s numbers go from 7PM-2AM. I will update with a direct, hour to hour comparison when I get it.

The big winner among the cable news channels in the ratings was CNN, which topped both Fox News and MSNBC in total viewers and the key demo of adults 25-54 for the night. The win is a huge one for CNN, as the network has struggled this year in the ratings. That said, it was down substantially compared to 2008, when it managed to top many of the broadcasters. That was not the case this year.

Update: I have the 8-11 PM numbers, and they show Fox News topping cable. In fact, FNC had its best primetime ever in total viewers, topping the night of the VP debate in 2008.

On the broadcast side, NBC looks to be the big winner, though final numbers won’t be in until a bit later. That said, NBC and ABC appear to be down compared to election night in 2008, CBS was the only broadcaster to grow from 2008.

I will have full analysis of the ratings later today.


Total Viewers (7PM-2AM)
CNN — 8,836,000
FNC — 7,708,000
MSNBC — 4,604,000

Total Viewers (8PM-11PM)
FNC — 11,453,000
CNN — 9,251,000
MSNBC — 4,666,000

A25-54 Demo (7PM-2AM)
CNN — 4,387,000
FNC — 3,494,000
MSNBC — 2,021,000

A25-54 Demo (8PM-11PM)
FNC — 4,451,000
CNN — 4,572,000
MSNBC — 1,996,000