Fox News Channel had the highest-rated midterm election coverage in cable news history with a whopping 7.8 million viewers on Tuesday night, according to early Nielsen Media Research.
FNC’s coverage, anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, also topped broadcast networks ABC, NBC and CBS in addition to cable news competitors.
Fox News’ 7.8 million viewers from 8-11 p.m. ET was followed by NBC’s 5.7 million total viewers. ABC finished third with an average audience of 5.3 million viewers, followed by CNN with 5.1 million and MSNBC’s 4.7 million while CBS finished last with 3.9 million.
In addition to finishing first among viewers, Fox News was the first network to call that Democrats were going to flip control of the U.S. House of Representatives – a prediction that proved accurate despite not being matched for over 30 minutes.
Rupert Murdoch’s cable network also prevailed during expanded hours of midterms coverage – averaging 6.1 million viewers from 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. ET compared to MSNBC’s 3.9 million and CNN’s 3.8 million.
Bill Hemmer, Chris Wallace, Brit Hume, Tucker Carlson, Chris Stirewalt, Harris Faulkner, Shannon Bream, Laura Ingraham, John Roberts, Dana Perino, Juan Williams, Ed Henry and Carley Shimkus were among the FNC personalities to join Baier and MacCallum for the network’s comprehensive coverage.
FNC finished second among the key demo of adults age 25-54, averaging 2.4 million.
Viewers who tuned into CNN witnessed anchor Jake Tapper make headlines shortly after results started coming in by declaring there would not be a “blue wave” for Democrats. Later in the evening, CNN’s Van Jones expressed further frustration.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Jones said.
MSNBC’s coverage was anchored by Brian Williams, who famously lied about his experience reporting from war zones, and outspoken liberal Rachel Maddow. The Media Research Center noted that MSNBC took a “somber tone” when Ted Cruz defeated liberal darling Beto O’Rourke in Texas– which clinched the GOP controlling the Senate.
Embattled NBC News chairman Andy Lack’s coverage on the Peacock Network topped ABC -- anchored by former Clinton spokesperson George Stephanopoulos – for bragging rights among broadcast networks. CBS finished last among total viewers but managed to impress at least one critic.
“When it came to the major broadcast networks and their midterm election coverage, CBS didn’t pan out to have quite the bias ABC and NBC offered,” NewsBusters managing editor Curtis Houck wrote.
Fox News had a big night away from the television, too. Fox News Digital picked up 125.6 million page views and 3.7 million mobile uniques – both 2018 highs, according to Adobe Analytics. Tuesday was also Fox News Digital’s highest day of page views, uniques and video starts on its politics page. Meanwhile, The New York Times' infamous live forecast needle was plagued with technical difficulties throughout the night as the Gray Lady temporarily removed its paywall for the midterms.
Fox News also drove 45 percent more social media engagements than CNN and MSNBC combined, according to Socialbakers.