US election TV ratings down on 2016

Will Thorne
·2-min read

The result of the 2020 US presidential election may still hang in the balance but one strong likelihood is that fewer American viewers watched election night.

With only a couple TV networks to count on Wednesday afternoon, the total viewership tally for Tuesday night was just under 55 million.

That's including the four major broadcasters - ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox - the three major cable news networks - Fox News, MSNBC and CNN - and a few others.

The overall number to beat from the previous election is 71.4 million, which was Nielsen's final count last time around across a dozen networks.

Looking at the individual network breakdown for 8-11 pm, Fox News drew by far the largest audience with 13.6 million viewers.

CNN came second with just over 9 million, followed by MSNBC with 7.3 million.

ABC managed to toppled NBC in the broadcast race, scoring 6.1 million viewers to the latter's 5.6 million.

CBS ended up with an audience of 4.3 million, while Fox trailed the pack with 3.3 million.

For comparison, NBC was the most-watched network four years ago with 12.1 million viewers, while Fox News had 11.5 million.

All three cablers combined were roughly even on 2016, as the decline from last election came primarily among the four broadcast networks (which lost more than 9 million total viewers combined).

In terms of the key news demographic of people aged 25-54, Fox News is again top of the pile but with a more slender lead.

FNC drew 4.9 million in the demo to its coverage, with CNN not far behind at 4.4 million.

The 2016 overall figure represented an increase from the 2012 night, which drew 66.8 million viewers.

The record viewership for election night is the 71.5 million who tuned in to Barack Obama's historic victory in 2008.