More than 71 million people tuned into election results on Tuesday night across 12 broadcast and cable networks, according to Nielsen Media Research’s final count.
Those networks include ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Univision, Telemundo, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, Fox Business Network, CNBC and TV One, but do not include PBS, which partnered with NPR to cover the results.
According to Variety, that number is on par with the record 71.47 million Americans who watched Barack Obama become president in 2008, although that count totaled 14 networks including PBS. In 2012, a far less contentious election between incumbent Barack Obama and Republican contender Mitt Romney, 66.8 million viewers tuned in across 13 networks.
By comparison, Super Bowl LX in February averaged 112 million viewers. The final game of the historic World Series in which the Chicago Cubs beat the Cleveland Indians to win the team’s first championship in 108 years was watched by some 40 million viewers. And the three presidential debates averaged a gross 74 million viewers across the three networks airing them, reports The Hollywood Reporter, with the first one averaging a record-breaking 84 million.
NBC was the most-watched broadcast network in the key primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, with 11.15 million viewers. ABC came in second with 9.23 million viewers, CBS in third with 8.09 million viewers and Fox, for which primetime is 8-10 p.m. averaged 4.28 million. Telemundo averaged 2.02 million.
Many viewers opted to watch the 24-hour cable news networks, and there CNN led in primetime with an average audience of 13.26 million in primetime. Fox News followed with 12.11 million viewers, and MSNBC came in third with 5.95 million. CNN also led among the key advertising demographic of adults 25-54 with 6.66 million viewers, followed by Fox News with 4.64 million and MSNBC with 2.37 million.
However, the election wasn’t called until nearly 3 a.m. ET, and some 19.1 million viewers stuck it out well past primetime.
Between 7 p.m., when East Coast polls started closing and results started coming in, and 3 a.m., when the election was called for Donald Trump, Fox News was the leader with 12.2 million viewers, followed by CNN with 11.17 million viewers. MSNBC trailed with 5.2 million. CNN led among adults 25-54 with 5.65 million viewers to Fox News’ 4.76 million. Tuesday night set ratings records for both CNN and Fox News.
These election results were likely the most-watched in history, however, since millions of viewers likely watched via streaming outlets, which weren’t tallied in the ratings.
READ MORE: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter
[Image courtesy of Variety]