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71.5 Million Tuned In For Election Coverage

Related: Networks Call Election Simultaneously for Obama Tops Media, Political Sites On Election Day

Nearly 71.5 million people tuned in to election coverage from 8-11 p.m. Tuesday, according to Nielsen. That is up substantially from 2004, when 59.2 million people watched George Bush defeat John Kerry, and from 2000, when 61.6 million people watched the (inconclusive) election results pour in.

ABC led the broadcast networks election night (8-11 p.m.), with a 4.7 rating/10 share in the 18-49 demo and 13.6 million total viewers, according to Nielsen live plus same day data. 

NBC also drew a 4.7/10 in the 18-49 demo, but was second in the 25-54 demo and in total viewers, where it drew 13.1 million people. 

CBS was third with a 2.5/5 in the demo and 8 million total viewers. 

Fox finished fourth with a 2.2/4 and 5.36 million total viewers.

ABC saw single-digit gains in the key demos and total viewers over 2004, and Fox had double-digit gains in the demo and total viewers.

Despite the gains from ABC and Fox, both CBS and NBC lost double digit percentages of viewers compared to 2004.

On the cable news side CNN had the most total viewers with 12.3 million and also won easily in the 25-54 demo, the network's target, pulling in 5.8 million demo viewers.

Fox News was second in both categories, drawing just over 9 million viewers and nearly 4 million demo viewers. That would be the most demo viewers and second most total viewers in the network’s history.

MSNBC finished third with nearly 5.9 million viewers, including 2.67 million in the demo. Despite the third place finish overall, MSNBC moved into second from 11 p.m.-1 a.m., during which time Senator McCain conceded and Senator Obama gave his acceptance speech.

Both CNN and Fox News performed better than CBS, with CNN coming close to broadcast leaders ABC and NBC in both the demo and total viewers.