UPDATE [5:12 pm ET]: Story now has final Nielsen numbers:
We’re still waiting on a whole bunch of midterm results, but we know who won Election Night in TV ratings. Tuesday was a Red Wave (of sorts) for the conservative-leaning Fox News Channel, which also claimed first place outright in 2020 and 2018.
Fox News drew an average of 7.42 million total viewers last night across primetime (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.), according to final Nielsen numbers, more than doubling its closest competitor, ABC (a rounded 3.31 million). MSNBC was third (3.21 million) and NBC proper (3.11 million) was fourth. CNN was a distant fifth place with 2.61 million total viewers; CBS brought up the rear with 2.56 million.
In the main news demo of adults 25-54, Fox News Channel was again No. 1, averaging a rounded 1.88. CNN attracted enough viewers in that age range (1.059 million) to rank second, coming in a mere 1,000 viewers ahead of third-place NBC. In fourth was ABC, with 900,000 demo viewers. MSNBC ranked fifth in the demo with 782,000; CBS (701,000) was again in last.
Year-to-date, Fox News Channel (2.3 million) is averaging nearly twice MSNBC’s (1.2 million) overall primetime viewers, and is more than 3x CNN’s (727,000). Fox also wins gold in the demo wars; CNN and MSNBC flip-flop for silver and bronze, respectively.
Fox News cemented its prominent Election-Night position in 2020, when it was the only major network to have called the state of Arizona for Joe Biden. The cable news channel brought back Arnon Mishkin to lead its election night projection desk last night; the evening was anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum.
While some pundits across all networks had predicted something of a Red Wave for Tuesday, with Republicans expected to flip control of either or both of the House and Senate in Congress, the Senate remains in play as the Georgia election between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker was so close that it will now call for a special runoff election.
Hollywood was also watching this year’s election very closely, as Tuesday night led to the defeat of Dr. Mehmet Oz, who was running as a Republican in the state of Pennsylvania but was defeated by Dem. John Fetterman. It also resulted in a victory in Ohio for “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance, who defeated the Democrat Tim Ryan. And abortion rights, which was a key issue across the country, was on the ballot in five states. California, Vermont and Michigan all voted to enshrine protections for abortions in the state’s Constitution, while voters in Kentucky rejected an initiative that would have enshrined an abortion ban into its state’s Constitution. A fifth measure raised in Montana has yet to be called.
But it may be as much as another month before voters get any closure as to which party will take control of the Senate and at least several days to count remaining ballots that can determine some tight races in the House.