The number of television viewers in the midterm elections fell to 25.4 million
The 2022 midterm elections set some records, including nearly $10 billion in political ads and the number of first voters. However, it did not set a record for the audience. The average viewership for the 2022 midterms was 25.4 million, the second lowest since 2002 and a 30% drop from the 36.1 million viewers in the 2018 midterms. In 2022, Nielsen measured audience delivery for five broadcast networks (ABC). CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision) and eight cable news channels CNN, CNN en Espanol, Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, Newsmax, NewsNation) Compare 11 grid Measured in 2018 (Outdoor and connected TV viewing included.)
Total average audience in midterm elections
Source: Nielsen; Peak time 8-11 pm. (ET) only
(includes radio and cable news networks)
In the evening, Fox News, the highest-rated news network on cable, produced 7.2 million viewers in prime time (8-11 p.m. ET), down 8% from 2018. During the same three hours, the average number of MSNBC viewers 3.1 million viewers, down from 34% from 2018. CNN averaged 2.5 million viewers per evening. Although CNN’s audience is 51% lower than it was four years ago, the network has boasted an average age younger than its cable competitors of 57 years, a full decade younger than a Fox News viewer. The average age of MSNBC was 64. Also, for the “news show” for adults 25-54 years old, CNN ranked third among all cable and broadcast networks with 983,000 viewers larger than ABC, CBS, and MSNBC.
Broadcasting networks also suffered sharp declines. NBC topped the three broadcast networks with an average audience of 3.1 million viewers, down 46% from 2018. ABC averaged 3 million viewers (-43% from 2018) and CBS averaged 2.5 million viewers (-36% from 2018 ).
See 43% coverage of broadcast network
See 57% coverage on cable networks
7% of viewers are between 18 and 34 years old
25% of viewers are between 35 and 54 years old
65% of viewers are 55 and over
Average midterm elections for audience by network
2022 2018 difference %.
Fox News 7.2 7.8-8%
MSNBC 3.1 4.7 – 34%
CNN 2.5 5.1 – 51%
NBC 3.1 5.7 – 46%
ABC 3.0 5.3 -43%
CBS 2.5 3.9 – 36%
Source: Nielsen; Peak time 8-11 pm. (ET) only
The two business news networks also covered mid-term results, resulting in a smaller audience. Fox Business averaged 598000 . and CNBC 103000
Average adult audience from 25 to 54 years old
Fox News 1.78.0 Update
NBC 1.04.0 Update
CNN 0.98.0 Update
MSNBC 0.75.0 Update
CBS 0.66.0 Update
With the upcoming elections expected that will determine control of Congress for the next two years, ABC, CBS, and NBC began their live coverage at 8 p.m. (ET). Similar to the presidential election, they covered live after midnight with live updates and forecasts. Evening news anchors led the broadcast network’s coverage. As in the past, cable news networks started their coverage before prime time and also extended to midnight.
However, there have been some updates to their coverage. Amid the background of fraud and fake news, the networks looked to validate the voting information they were covering. Initially, CBS News, which first broadcast the election results in 1948, implemented the Bureau of Democracy which had live reporters and people familiar with election laws reporting on any violence/threats to election workers and any accusations of election fraud. NBC News introduced a similar feature called the “Voting Monitoring Module” that looked at alternative facts and voter security. ABC News also had a group of reporters focused on the topic.
Both radio and television news networks had “on the ground” reporters across the battlefield states. In addition, the live coverage was broadcast across a number of digital platforms including CBS News Streaming, NBC News Now, and ABC News Live as well as various websites, apps, and YouTube channels. With linear news networks geared toward seniors, digital coverage will (hopefully) appeal to a younger audience.
Another improvement is the use of augmented reality in its coverage. Both CBS and Univision have used technology that helps viewers visually better understand problems in real time.
The total average audience for the 2020 presidential election was also lower than the 2016 presidential election. In 2020, the networks combined averaged 56.9 million viewers across 13 networks. This was also a significant decrease from 2016 which generated an average of 71 million prime-time viewers across 21 networks.
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