Fox News leads cable news ratings on election night, slips on Nov. 4

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Fox News HQ on the third day of 2012 Democratic National Convention coverage. Photo by Steve Bott.

Despite record voter turnout and outsized interest in this year’s election, ratings for television news programs decreased from 2016. The number of cable news viewers on the night of the election stayed roughly the same, while broadcast viewing was down by 34%.

Fox News was the most-viewed network covering election night, with about 14 million viewers. CNN and MSNBC had an estimated 9.4 million and 7.6 million viewers respectively. 

CBS, NBC, Fox, and ABC’s news programs had a combined 19.6 million viewers on election night, a sharp decrease from 2016. This result could be due to more people following it online, as well as the anticipation that the election would not be called on Nov. 3.

On Nov. 4, CNN led Fox News in ratings, with almost 7.1 million viewers to Fox News’s 6.3 million. 

On election night, Fox News surprised many of its most loyal viewers by projecting a victory for Joe Biden in Arizona, drawing the criticism of Karl Rove. Fox’s on-air news anchors, including Chris Wallace, have defended the desk’s projection.



Kaitlin Parker