Donald Trump Win Is Most Watched Election in Cable News History
Donald Trump's surprising win in the U.S. Presidential election race was also a big win for broadcast and cable news networks alike. The Nielsen ratings system estimated that 71.4 million people watched primetime election coverage across ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, TV One and Lifetime. Those numbers don't include coverage after 11 PM ET, which is worth noting because the race wasn't over until roughly 3 AM ET. Last night's coverage matches the 71 million viewers that tuned in when Barack Obama won his first election in 2008.
Even though the race wasn't determined until after 3 AM on the East Coast, when Hillary Clinton conceded the race, more than 12.2 million viewers tuned in to Fox News' coverage, between 7 PM ET, when most of the East Coast polls closed, and 3 AM ET. These numbers include 4.8 million viewers in the 25-54 news demographic, with the total viewers marking the highest numbers ever for Fox News Channel during an Election Night.
Deadline reports that even in the hour between 2 AM and 3 AM ET, when Hillary Clinton conceded the race to Donald Trump, Fox News brought in 9.8 million viewers. Fox News' Election 2016 coverage peaked in the hour between midnight at 1 AM, where 15.4 million viewers tuned in, including 6.183 million news demo viewers. The hotly-contested election also drew in big numbers for two other cable news networks.
CNN's coverage drew in 11.2 million viewers between the 7 PM ET and 3 AM ET time frame, but it did manage to beat Fox News in the 25-54 news demographic, with 5.7 million viewers. MSNBC drew in 5.2 million total viewers, and 2.1 25-54 news demographic viewers within the same time frame. CNN peaked in the 10 PM-11 PM hour with just over 14 million viewers and 7.2 million viewers in the news demographic, with MSNBC peaking between 11 PM and midnight with 6.8 million viewers and 3 million in the news demo.
As for primetime coverage, CNN set a cable record with 13.258 million viewers who were following the Trump-Clinton coverage. Fox News followed with 12.1 million from 8-11 PM ET, with MSNBC pulling in 5.9 million viewers. We'll see how these networks fare when Donald Trump is sworn into office as U.S. President in January.