Updated: CNN Leads Cable News Nets in 7p-2a Election Night Viewing, But Fox News Leads Primetime

Categories: Cable News Ratings

Written By

November 7th, 2012

Bill would say "A once-every-four-years presidential election is not a business model!"  Nonetheless, in preliminary numbers CNN edged out Fox News (note: the numbers below do *not* include viewing of the Fox broadcast network) in the preliminary Nielsen ratings from 7pm-2am (from first polls closing to candidates speeches):

CNN               8.836 million total viewers/4.387m adults 25-54/2.711m adults 18-34      

FNC                8.708 million total viewers/3.494m adults 25-54/1.214m adults 18-34

MSNBC          4.604 million total viewers/2.021m adults 25-54/785k adults 18-34


Update: FNC easily led CNN in primetime viewers (though CNN had the primetime edge with adults 25-54). As you can see below FNC was the only cable news network up in primetime vs. 2008 with CNN and MSNBC down double digits from 2008.

PRIMETIME COVERAGE 8:00-11:00PM (primetime coverage)

FNC: 11,453,464 in total viewers (4,451,387 in 25-54)

CNN: 9,251,678 in total viewers (4,572,022 in 25-54)

MSNBC: 4,666,307 in total viewers (1,996,555 in 25-54)


2008 Election 8-11PM/ET (Primetime Comparison)

FNC: 9,044,000 (P2+) +27%, 3,925,000 +13%

CNN: 12,304,000 (P2+) -25%, 5,820,000 (25-54) -21%

MSNBC: 5,889,000 (P2+) ---21%, 2,663,000 -25%


2012 Election -


FNC: 10,552,197 (P2+), 4,108,649 (25-54)

CNN: 8,881,539 (P2+), 4,355,915 (25-54)

MSNBC: 4,555,306 (P2+), 1,940,392 (25-54)


  • Nathan (NR2012)


  • TomJH

    WTF? In the mid-terms and 4 years ago FNC kicked CNN’s ass.

  • Nathan (NR2012)

    I really liked CNN’s coverage.

  • http://tvbythenumbers.com Robert Seidman

    @TomJH: that may well be the case for the *primetime* numbers for last night as well (haven’t seen them yet). The numbers above are from 7p-2a ET.

  • Carmen

    I flipped around the channels for a little while, but fairly early focused on CNN.
    John King did a really good job and their coverage was by far the least slanted.

  • Joe

    very good job CNN i was tuned til 2 am i was little annoyed they replayed obama speech numerous but its understandable

  • don

    as usual nobody watched msdnc

  • miles silverberg

    Nice to see that people ended up wanting to watch real, insightful news coverage as opposed to partisan cheerleading/muckraking.

    If CNN could just dump Piers Morgan and find a “star” who is an actual journalist to fill that spot, they could really find their way back to competing in the next few years.

  • Observer

    Kind of reflects the mood of the country. Tuned into a democrat channel to elect a democrat president. Not too surprising.

  • Derrick

    ” don
    Posted November 7, 2012 at 12:12 PM
    as usual nobody watched msdnc, ”

    because 4 million = nobody

  • Mark2

    OUCH!!! That’s gotta hurt!

    That’s like pouring salt on a wound.

    John King and his interactive map rules.

  • Derrick

    those who thought CNN did a good job must not have watched CNN long, the have gotten sloppy.

    heck, I think, even FOX News called the election for Obama before they did

  • Joe


    those who thought CNN did a good job must not have watched CNN long, the have gotten sloppy.

    heck, I think, even FOX News called the election for Obama before they did

    I think ABC was accurate but 3 minuets doesn’t benefit FOX that much as you want to Romney was way behind

  • Mark2

    MSNBC was the first to call the election.

  • Laurence Glavin

    Rachel Maddow on MSNBC commented that Karl Rove was going ballistic at about 11:00 pm, so Iflipped to the Faux Right-Wing Propaganda Network and witnessed the whole thing. As they say in the Master Card ads: Priceless.


    @Laurence: wouldn’t listen to a whole lot of of Rachel Maddow says and or MSNBC, whose in the pocket of Obama. Karl was not saying Romney was going to win Ohio, just saying they shouldn’t have called it do early. I flipped back n forth from CNN and FOX, and didn’t think Karl freaked out at all.

  • don

    fox called it before everyone else and yes on a night like last night 4 million is CRAP numbers heck bill gets that every night

  • DenverDean

    Actually FOX was very professional during the time the election was called. I tuned in right before Rove went on his bender, but the anchors checked with FOX analysts to discuss why they called it so early and they were steadfast that the information they had meant there was no way Romney could win Ohio – they did not cave nor fall into hype or second-guessing. FOX also had a great number of Democratic strategists on the program. (Definitely something MSNBC doesn’t do with Republicans.)

  • birdmantd

    Good for CNN. It gives them something to stick their chests out about which they haven’t been able to do much of in recent years. Coveragewise they did seem to be learning to use advanced technology better. John King did a great job breaking down the numbers as usual. Could have done with the live “look-ins” to county offices where they’re reporting small amounts of votes. And putting partisan politics aside, I found Fox News’s graphics unappealing including the heavy use of yellow. Interesting though as the night went on I found the Associated Press seem to have quicker returns than the networks.

  • Dan

    Megyn Kelly is HOT!!

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