The live nature of election night coverage across four time zones renders the Nielsen ratings so problematic that Nielsen won’t even release final Tuesday ratings until Thursday afternoon. The fast national numbers available now are likely to change quite a bit, but one thing that shouldn’t is a nightly win for ABC, thanks as usual to “Dancing with the Stars.”
Again, many of the following numbers need to be taken with a bigger grain of salt than usual, but according to the fast nationals, ABC averaged 12.1 million viewers and a 2.4/7 rating/share in the 18-49 demographic. NBC was second in the demo with 2.1/6 and 6.5 million viewers, while CBS was second in total viewers, with 9.5 million anda 2.0/5. FOX was in fourth place by either measure, with 4 million and a 1.4/4. The CW – which didn’t bother with election programming at all, and should be more immune to fluctuations than the Big Four – was, as usual, a distant fifth, with less than 2 million viewers and a 0.9/3.
8 p.m. The first hour of a 90-minute “Dancing” results show averaged 15.5 million viewers and a 2.8/8. “The Biggest Loser” did a 2.5/7 with 6.9 million viewers for NBC, while CBS’ “NCIS” repeat drew 11.5 million viewers and a 2.2/6. A “Glee” repeat on FOX averaged 5.1 million viewers and a 1.9/5, while “One Tree Hill” did 2.1 million and a 1.0/3 for the CW.
9 p.m. A half-hour of “Dancing” results combined with the first half-hour of ABC News’ election coverage combined to average 14.8 million viewers and a 3.0/8. An “NCIS: LA” repeat was second with 11.1 million and a 2.4/6. The first hour of NBC’s election coverage did 6.6 million and a 2.0/5, while FOX’s own election coverage did 3 million and a 0.9/2. That was the exact same demo rating for the CW’s “Life Unexpected,” Which drew in 1.8 million viewers overall.
10 p.m. Election coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC, with NBC narrowly winning in both total viewers (6.1 million) and demographics (1.7/5), trailed by ABC (5.9 million, 1.4/4) and CBS (6 million, 1.3/4).
All ratings information comes from preliminary Fast National Nielsen data, which includes live and same-day DVR viewing. All numbers are subject to change, particularly in the case of live events.