Election Night Ratings: More Than 40 Million People Watched on Broadcast TV

Oriana Schwindt
Variety

Tuesday night, Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. And 40.77 million Americans watched it happen on one of the broadcast networks.

That number, from Nielsen’s preliminary primetime ratings (8 p.m. – 11 p.m.), includes ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox (from 8-10), Univision, and Telemundo. ABC had an average audience of 9.68 million viewers. CBS pulled in 8.8 million. Fox’s two hours of results coverage drew 4.28 million. NBC had the largest total audience, with 11.97 million.

Univision averaged 3.89 million viewers, and Telemundo averaged 2.16 million.

Coverage on all of the networks except Fox extended into the wee hours of the morning, making the preliminary ratings subject to adjustment once the rest of the night has been added in.

Cable networks will add a massive audience on top of the broadcast ratings. In metered market overnight ratings, CNN and Fox News drew much larger household ratings than the broadcasters. CNN drew an 8.7 rating, while Fox News drew a 7.2. MSNBC drew a 4.0.

For comparison’s sake, NBC, the top broadcast draw, came in earlier this morning with a 7.0 metered market overnight rating. More complete numbers for the cable networks will be available later Wednesday afternoon.

The average audience for election night coverage in 2012 was 66.8 million when viewing across 13 networks was tallied by Nielsen. In 2008, 71 million people over 14 networks watched Barack Obama become the first African-American man elected president.

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