The election is over, and the vote that really matters to broadcasters andtheir advertisers is in. And the winner is ... ABC, which averaged 13.1million viewers in primetime for its coverage anchored by Charles Gibson,Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos -- but that figure represented only18 percent of the total 71.5 million viewers who watched the results on themajor broadcast and cable networks (versus 55.1 million in 2004) -- and thatdoesn't include the unknown number of viewers who tuned in to PBS or thosewho accessed streaming live video on the Internet or the 3 million whoviewed the one-hour election-night special on Comedy Central featuring JonStewart and Stephen Colbert. Several TV columnists made the case today(Thursday) that the biggest winners may have been the cable news networks,which made significant gains from the 2004 elections. CNN averaged 12.3million viewers in primetime, nearly twice its 2004 tally, and came insecond only to ABC for the night. Fox News, which led all cable news outletsin 2004, dropped in the rankings, but its total of 9 million viewers was up12 percent over the 8 million who tuned in four years ago. MSNBC saw thebiggest ratings boost, rising to 5.9 million viewers from 2.8 million in2004 -- a whopping 111 percent rise. However, its success may have come atthe expense of its sibling broadcast network NBC, whose numbers dropped to12 million from 15.2 million in 2004, when coverage was anchored by TomBrokaw. Brian Williams took over this year. CBS's coverage, fronted by KatieCouric, attracted 7.8 million viewers, an 18-percent drop from the 9.5million who watched the Dan Rather-anchored coverage in 2004.

06/11/2008