Delayed election results drag down TV ratings
With expectations that the 2020 presidential race would not be decided on election night, fewer people tuned in to coverage of the runoff than in 2016.
Despite a record voter turnout, prime-time coverage on Tuesday night dropped 20% from 2016, with 56.9 million viewers tuning in across 21 networks, according to Nielsen.
In 2016, 71.4 million people watched across 13 networks, which was an uptick from the 66.8 million viewers who tuned in to the 2012 election night. The most watched election night was Barack Obama’s 2008 win, which was watched by 71.5 million people.
Fox News won the night and set a record for the most-watched Election Night coverage in cable news history. The network averaged 13.6 million viewers in the 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. time slot. It was followed by CNN with 9 million viewers and MSNBC with 7.3 million.
On the broadcast side, ABC led the pack, averaging 6.1 million viewers. NBC brought in 5.6 million, CBS had 4.3 million and Fox was watched by 3.3 million. In comparison, in 2016, NBC attracted 12.1 million viewers.
The other networks airing election coverage measured by Nielsen include Fox Business, CNBC, Telemundo, Univision, Estrella, NBCLX, PBS, BET, BET Her, CNNe, Newsmax, Newsy, Vice and WGNA.
It’s worth noting that out-of-home viewing as well as connected TV viewing are included in Nielsen’s total figures. CTV is estimated to contribute as much as 11% to TV political events.