NBC scored the best viewing results on the big presidential election night.
Preliminary Nielsen results have shown NBC posting 12.6 million total average viewers, during the key 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. prime-time hours. Fox News Channel was next at 11.5 million viewers. ABC followed at 11.2 million; CNN was at 9.3 million, and CBS was at 8.4 million viewers.
Fox's broadcast network was at 5.0 million viewers, followed by MSNBC at 4.7 million.
Somewhat expectedly, overall TV viewership was down versus four years ago. ABC led last time around with 13.1 million, followed by CNN at 12.3 million; NBC at 12.0 million; Fox News Channel with 9.0 million; CBS at 7.8 million; MSNBC at 5.9 million; and Fox with 5.1 million.
NBC posted the best 18-49 viewer results: a 4.6 rating/10 share. These key viewership numbers were up from the 4.5 rating of a year ago. ABC scored a 3.8/8 among 18-49 viewers, down in a big way from the 4.5 rating among 18-49 viewers a year ago. Like NBC, CBS also grew in ratings for 18-49 viewers -- at a 2.7/6, up from a 2.3 a year ago. Fox network was next at a 2.0/4 -- the same level as a year ago.
Other contenders: Univision posted a 1.4/3 and 3.5 million viewers, and CW, running repeat programing of some of its rookie prime-time programming: "Arrow" and "Emily Owens MD" took in a 0.5/1 among 18-49 viewers and 1.5 million viewers, respectively.
The election-night viewing results more or less followed the broadcast networks' seasonal results in their respective early-evening newscasts. NBC has been the leader, with ABC a close second. For cable networks, the election night results for Fox News Channel continued its strong regular-season prime-time viewership.
Looking at a broader view of the cable networks -- 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. -- CNN took top honors in total viewers -- with 8.8 million. Fox News Channel was next at 7.7 million, and MSNBC was at 4.6 million.
Analysts have noted that NBC was also the first TV network to call the election -- projecting that President Barack Obama had won a second term.