Ratings: ABC Ekes Out Win on Biggest Election Night Since 1980
ABC's Charles Gibson
After more than 130 million Americans cast their vote for President of the United States on Tuesday, a full 71 million tuned into 14 broadcast and cable networks to see who would emerge the winner, according to Nielsen. (Spoiler alert: Obama won.)
Of that total, ABC topped the pack in viewers, averaging 13.1 mil. CNN placed second with 12.3 million, the largest audience in the cabler's 28-year history.
Among the Big 4 networks, ABC and Fox posted gains over their 2004 presidential election coverage — of 13 percent and 29 percent, respectively — while CBS (plunging 22 percent) and NBC (down 10 percent) fell short of their previous performances.
All told, this year's coverage of the race to the White House was up 16 percent over the 2000 nail-biter, and represented the most-watched election night since 1980. It was also TV's most watched event since February's Super Bowl (97.5 mil).
Of the scarce scripted fare, the CW's 90210 (3.02 million viewers) dipped 180K week-to-week, but Privileged (2.26 mil) managed a slight increase. (Nope, no word yet on the back nine.)
In the land of cable, the Colbert and Stewart-hosted Indecision 2008: America's Choice drew 3.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched special in the history of Comedy Central's Indecision political coverage.