Around 22.8 million total viewers tuned in to watch the beginning of a back-and-forth race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden across ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision and Telemundo. While those are still very early numbers, they are down significantly from Election Night 2016 at the same stage. It remains to be seen whether the final total for last night will catch up once more accurate time zone adjusted numbers, as well those for the cable news networks and multiple other carriers, become available later in the day.
At this very early stage, ABC is leading the way with 5.9 million total viewers, followed very closely by NBC with 5.7 million. CBS is in third with 4.4 million viewers, with Fox drawing 3.6 million viewers in fourth. For comparison, NBC had double the audience in the early figures and was leading in 2016, while ABC had a touch under 10 million.
The overall number to beat from the previous election is 71.4 million, which was Nielsen’s final count across a dozen networks last time around. That represented roughly a 6% decline from the 2012 night, which drew 66.8 million viewers. The record TV viewership for election night is the 71.5 million who tuned in to watch Barack Obama score a historic victory in 2008.
More to come…