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Election Night Coverage – Historical Ratings 1960-2004

1 minute read | November 2008

Television viewing on Election Night has changed dramatically over the years, considering the expansion of technology and the number of different channels available to the average home. In 1960 for example, in the close race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, most U.S. homes had only a few channels available so the Election Night returns captured virtually all the audience with more than 65% of all homes tuning in. Now with more than 40 channels available to the average home, the percentage of homes watching political coverage (as seen in the combined rating column) has gone down.

Numbers for coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain’s race for the White House will be released Nov. 5.





2004ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC34.537,856,000
2000ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC40.240,914,000
1996ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN25.824,940,000
1992ABC, CBS, NBC39.836,900,000
1988ABC, CBS, NBC25.923,414,000
1984ABC, CBS, NBC35.930,479,000
1980ABC, CBS, NBC46.437,074,000
1976ABC, CBS, NBC51.636,739,000
1972ABC, CBS, NBC45.429,419,000
1968ABC, CBS, NBC58.534,076,000
1964ABC, CBS, NBC55.729,311,250
1960ABC, CBS, NBC65.729,796,000
Source: © 2008 NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH; Nielsen Tunes into Politics 1992, NTI Television Audience, 1960 and 1964 NTI Pocketpieces

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