CNN’s Star Wars Episode VII: A New Change-and-Hope may have been the most-mocked election-night broadcast, for its various Industrial Light and Magic effects, but that didn’t hurt it in the Nielsens. It drew over 12 million viewers during primetime, beating its cable news competition and every broadcast network except ABC (which used Lord of the Rings technology to make George Stephanopoulos appear hobbit-sized).
CNN’s audience was twice what it pulled in 2004. Fox News won the cable election ratings that year; this year, it drew over 9 million, compared with 8 million in 2004. MSNBC also doubled its audience, from 2.8 million in 2004 to almost 5.9 million in 2008. (NBC, on the other hand, dipped from 15.2 million to 12 million.)
Overall, election night had an audience of over 71 million this year, improving on 2004’s total of just over 59 million. 2004 has demanded a recount.