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)


  • Mt Rick

    I guess this means that CNN did not lead in audiance for Cable News. The numbers for FCN were way off in the preliminary numbers. MSNBCs numbers were close.
    I don’t remember the Preliminary numbers ever being this far off.

  • d.d

    @miles silverberg
    If CNN could just dump Piers Morgan and find a “star” who is an actual journalist

    I couldn’t agree more. I find Piers pompous gasbag, &, I am skeptical of his claim not to know about the phone hacking taking place when he was editor at the Daily Mirror.


    Gabrielle Giffords Arizona Congressional seat has not been determined yet. I hope (R)Martha McSally wins. I think she is a good role model for women.

    McSally earned a Master’s degree from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government

    “Martha McSally is a retired United States Air Force colonel and U.S. congressional candidate. She was the first American woman to fly in combat since the 1991 lifting of the prohibition of women in combat, flying the A-10 over Iraq and Kuwait.[1] McSally is also the first woman to command a USAF fighter squadron, the 354th Fighter Squadron (354 FS) based at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

    In 2001she filed & won a lawsuit against the Department of Defense, challenging the military policy that required U.S. and U.K. servicewomen stationed in Saudi Arabia to wear the body-covering abaya when traveling off base in the country.[2][3] At the time of the lawsuit McSally was the highest ranking female fighter pilot in the Air Force. ”

    She was deployed to Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, where she employed weapons in combat for the first time. In 2005, McSally and her squadron were awarded the David C. Shilling Award, given by the Air Force Association for the best aerospace contribution to national defense.”

  • Raz

    Nice to see CNN get some nice numbers. Too bad it will not last.

  • Observer

    This just shows that people who don’t normally watch or process news go to CNN for their must see political viewing. Could that be why they voted the way they did?

  • miles silverberg

    True CNN wasn’t first in calling many things, in fact they waited a long time to call Wisconsin. I think they consciously made a decision to care more about “right” than “first” this time. But I don’t care so much about “first” as long as the analysis is good.

  • AM

    Well, I was over here a couple of years ago and had a discussion with the Faux News cheerleader section who was of the opinion that Faux’s ratings somehow equated to a GOP win in yesterday’s election. My assertion was that a few million viewers for Faux merely represented a 1-2% lunatic fringe of society. I was right. And, the cheerleading section was wrong. Those ratings do not represent who we are as a society. Faux News has acquired quite a reputation these past four years, and it’s my assertion that they will become more isolated in the future. Faux News gets it ratings from whipping it’s viewership into a frenzy, and the more angry they can make their viewers, the more ratings they get. I don’t watch MSNBC or Faux, certainly not Faux. But please be aware, that there are people watching with interest just how far they are willing to take their brand of no-ethics journalistic “entertainment”, and how far they will continue to pull down the Republican Party. I’m finished fact-checking this network. Myself and sizeable chunk of our population, now just assume it’s misinformation. That’s a challenge that Faux faces, and just be aware that our society is very aware of their behavior.

  • Ralph Hahn

    What the numbers do NOT show above are the numbers of Fox Broadcasting viewers. I switched back and forth from FNC’s Brett Baier & Megyn Kelly and Shepard Smith, who anchored coverage on Fox Broadcast Television (Channel 5 in the NYC area) and it was essentially the same show put on by the same people in the same building. Reporters in the field were multi-tasking filing stories for both FNC and Fox Broadcast. The two should be counted as one. If they were two separate operations, they should be counted as two separate broadcasts. NBC’s and MSNBC’s coverage differed greatly. The are NO journalists on MSNBC, only liberal commentators who get “tingly” in the legs for Obama speeches and another who may have a PhD but is certainly no doctor. What libs consider brainy intelligence of Rachel Maddow, I consider that just plain arrogance. To be more in character, Maddow should be dressed like a college professor, sports jacket with elbow patches, smoking a pipe on a recliner. Picture a younger John Houseman of “Paper Chase.” lol

  • jjc

    Always been an NBC guy but

    1) Watch CNN primarily… pretty split commentary (though I turn channel with Fliescher is spinning). John King was spot on.

    2) Watch MSNBC every night for Chris Matthews… Love Chuck Todd and Steve Schultz is actually rational but they were switching back and forth with NBC coverage.. ultimately once I saw Maddow was hosting I tuned out all night… her rambling diatribes are monotone and unwatchable. She is the LAST person that MSNBC should have host… and Matthews or Todd are the correct choices.

    3) Have to admit once the likely outcome was surfacing I did break my personal vow and tune in Fox News a few times to watch the ‘train wreck’ hit them. And Rove will make for an outstanding Saturday Night Live skit this week.

  • 1966

    your an idiot, but you already knew that.

© 2015 Tribune Digital Ventures