Cable Ratings: Fox News Tops Election Night Viewership

Fox News topped the cable networks in primetime election coverage Tuesday night, drawing a total audience of nearly 7 million from 8-11 p.m., according to fast national data from Nielsen.

CNN followed with 2.4 million viewers and MSNBC was third with 1.9 million.

In the news target adults 25-54 demo, Fox had 2.4 million viewers, CNN had 1 million and MSNBC had 669,000.

Fox also prevailed easily in the 5-7 p.m. run-up to the first poll closings, averaging 3.092 million in total viewers and 750,000 25-54's.

Fox prevailed in every daypart, while CNN topped MSNBC across the board as well.

On Election Night 2008, CNN led with 12.3 million viewers, Fox News averaged 9 million and MSNBC averaged 5.9 million in a more closely-watched presidential election year. But compared to the 2006 midterm elections, MSNBC was flat with 1.95 million, CNN dipped from 2.97 million and Fox News surged from 3.06 million.

CNN said its online coverage of Election Day 2010 drew almost 80 million page views, the most since the Michael Jackson memorial service in 2009. MSNBC also got an election day bump, with online visits up 38%.

The fast affiliate numbers for the broadcast networks are unreliable, but early ratings show NBC (1.8) and ABC (1.7 rating) in the lead over CBS at a 1.3 in the 18-49 demo.

John Eggerton contributed to this report.