It's not immediately clear whether the numbers represent an apples-to-apples increase. In 2004, Nielsen measured six networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News Channel and MSNBC -- and did not include viewing of the timeslot hours later through use of a digital video recorder, a metric that has come into use since then. In 2008, Nielsen is measuring eight networks -- ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, BET and TV One -- and is including time-shifted viewing of the event.
In 2004, CBS notched the most viewers, attracting approximately 4.55 million viewers. NBC came in second, winning 4.53 million, with ABC snaring around 4.40 million. On the cable side, CNN handily trumped the other rivals, winning about 2.55 million, while Fox News Channel snared 1.44 million and MSNBC captured about 1.01 million.
Ratings for individual networks this time around are not yet available, but Nielsen is expected to have more specific information ready for official release soon.