New York A record-setting 70 million-plus viewers watched election returns Tuesday night, which proved to be historic for cable TV and Web news consumption just as it was for Barack Obama.
It was no doubt the most people to use those mediums to follow election returns. Nielsen Media Research doesn't have complete historical viewership figures, but the 47 million homes following the story on TV was the most ever.
Web sites run by MSNBC, CNN and ABC News all shattered records for traffic on Tuesday. The top site Yahoo! News saw its page views up 80 percent over the 2004 campaign.
The numbers seemed a fitting conclusion for a campaign that startled news executives at nearly every turn with the intensity of public interest, from debates to primary nights to conventions and even a prime-time infomercial.
Nielsen measured viewership on 14 separate networks that aired returns, not including PBS, C-SPAN and the Fox Business Network, none of which are rated by the company.
ABC News had the most prime-time viewers, according to Nielsen's preliminary estimate. But stretch that coverage to 11:30 p.m. CST, which would include John McCain's concession speech and Obama's victory appearance in Chicago, and CNN was watched more than any network.