It was a squeaker race in Nielsen’s popular vote that showed a clearly divided cable news audience. But CNN still managed to edge out Fox News on election night.
CNN delivered 8.8 million viewers (4.4 adults 25-54) on Tuesday evening. Fox News was right behind with 8.7 million viewers (3.5 million adults 25-54). MSNBC placed third with 4.6 million viewers (2 million adults 25-54). The ratings track from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., from polls starting to close through Barack Obama’s late-night acceptance speech.
This is definitely a nice boost for CNN, which has typically placed second to Fox News when covering high-profile debates during this election cycle. Fox News maintained its dominance during last night’s primetime window between 8-11, when they averaged 11.5 million viewers. CNN viewers missed, however, what was probably the most entertaining cable news desk moment of the night — Republican strategist Karl Rove trying to convince Fox News that calling Ohio for the president was “premature.”
UPDATE: A total of 66.8 million viewers tuned in to watch election coverage during primetime last night. That’s down about 7 percent from 2008 and accounts for 13 networks. NBC, which was the first network to call the presidency last night, had the highest overall viewership with 12.1 million viewers during primetime.