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Ratings Chart Attack!

ABC Wins in Key Demos on Election Night

November 5, 2008 12:07 PM

Election coverage dominated the prime-time arena last night, as ABC walked away with a win in all key demos.


ABC led the night in all demos, drawing a 4.4 rating in the 18- to 49-year-old demographic, and took the night in total viewers with 13.1 million viewers, according to time-adjusted preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research.

Due to the time adjustment, share data is not available at this time.

NBC, a close second, brought in a 4.2 rating in adults 18-49, with 12 million tuning in to see Sen. Barack Obama handily capture the presidency of the United States.

Compared to 2004, NBC declined 18% in adults 18-49 while ABC gained 7% from the 2004 presidential election. Total viewers also grew for ABC, up by 9%, while NBC dipped by 18%. This marks the first time since 1996 that ABC has won the night of presidential election coverage.

A distant third, CBS’ prime-time coverage brought in 7.8 million viewers and a 2.4 in adults 18-49.

In the adults 18-49 demo, CBS dipped 25% from 2004 and dropped 14% in total viewers.

Fox placed fourth with 5.3 million viewers and a 2.2 in adults 18-49.

Fox gained nicely from 2004, increasing 22% in adults 18-49.

In terms of history, we’ll need to wait for cable numbers to be released later in the day to determine the absolute scope of viewership. The high-water mark currently is 1960 with a combined 65.7 household rating. In more recent elections, the 2000 race managed to wrangle a combined 40.2 rating, with coverage airing on the Big Three networks as well as Fox, Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.

For contrast, the lowest-rated election was the 1996 re-election run of Bill Clinton against Bob Dole, which drew a combined 25.8 household rating.

And yes, The CW did have programming last night, but due to local news election coverage preemptions, the data should be considered incredibly tentative.

“90210” (1.4/3 in adults 18-49) declined 9% from last week in the network’s key women 18-34 demographic, pulling in a 2.8/6. “Privileged” (1.1/2 in adults 18-49) managed to stay on par in the same demographic with its 2.0/4.

Oh, and history was made at 11 p.m. EST last night:

(1:45 p.m.: Updated throughout with time-zone-adjusted data)


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