Why This Year’s Election Night Ratings Won’t Be a Repeat of 2016 Highs

Tony Maglio
·1-min read

Election Night 2020 ought to be no Election Night 2016. By that, we mean TV ratings are likely to be lower this time. Four years ago, Election Night 2016 drew 71.4 million viewers across 13 networks, according to Nielsen, which was 4.6 million more than 2012 but down 100,000 viewers from the recorded high in 2008. That year, when Barack Obama was first elected to the highest office in the country, 71.5 million Americans tuned in to the historic moment. CNN was tops in primetime in 2016, while Fox News dominated over eight-hour-plus period when the results came in. (More on that in a bit.) One thing working against Tuesday’s viewership is the general downward trend in Nielsen ratings — especially for the broadcast networks. Another is challenger Joe Biden’s sizable lead in the polls over incumbent Donald Trump — although that was also true four years ago, when Trump pulled off his upset win over presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton. Drama is good for television ratings, but our blood pressure could use a little less of the stuff in 2020. Smooth, steady and predictable Electoral College reporting won’t keep as many eyeballs glued to the TV screen. Also Read: Biden-Trump...

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