Relying on polls and group think, television networks began covering election night with a barely concealed assumption that Clinton would win, only to see the actual results suggest something quite different. Tens of millions of Americans followed the drama on all manner of screens as the drama stretched into the early morning.
A running tally of what broadcast, cable and digital outlets have planned for today, as well as the newspapers dropping their paywalls for one day only.
As television news gears up for 2016’s big finale, an intense public distrust in the media is threatening the networks’ traditional role as election night scorekeeper. And new digital competitors plan to break the usual election-night rules and issue real-time predictions long before polls close.
Ever since Jimmy Carter’s early concession in 1980 was blamed for losses to down-ballot Democrats in Western states, both politicians and media outlets have been religious about not reporting the results until everyone’s voted. But that’s all about to change. This year, a handful of different projects are underway to disrupt the rhythm and flow of information on Election Day — including one controversial effort that some worry could affect the actual election results.
If the wild, unpredictable 2016 presidential campaign is a reality show starring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, think of election night as the series finale. Based on the record-shattering ratings for the debates and all-time audience highs for the cable news networks during the past year, it’s likely that Tuesday will be the most-watched night of election coverage ever.
Besides following on TV, many of viewers on election night will have second or third screens at hand to dive deeper into results. Here’s a thumbnail sketch of network plans:
More than 50 debates will have been broadcast and streamed by election day. Web-exclusive election night coverage will stream across Gannett’s digital platforms.
Nielsen said Thursday that Fox News Channel had 6.94 million viewers during the 10 p.m. hour Tuesday. That put it ahead of NBC (6.27 million), followed by CBS (5.86 million) and ABC (5.53 million).
Election night in a newsroom is insane. It’s the one time of the year that management doesn’t care if photographers, producers or reporters get overtime…
News organizations have unleashed a multimedia blizzard of widgets, apps, dashboards, Twitter tie-ins and iPad doohickeys for Tuesday’s elections. More than ever, the online and mobile offerings aren’t merely supplementary to Tuesday night’s TV viewing, but can function as primary sources for following the election results.
The group owner offered linked broadcast, e-media and mobile coverage of election night in its 30 news-producing markets.
Though ad spending on this election is expected to surpass 2008, TV ratings are not. More than 71 million people tuned in two years ago to see Barack Obama become the first African-American presidential election winner. But midterm elections traditionally do not draw as well as presidential years. Plus, the broadcast networks are not devoting their entire primetime to election coverage as they did in ’08. In fact, some, like CBS and Fox, are devoting only an hour to midterm results. Here’s what the networks have scheduled.
For its Election Day coverage, the ABC Chicago O&O will offer local election updates all evening long, on-air and online as well as delivering results via Web-enabled cell phones and wireless handheld devices.
The Chicago NBC O&O will offer expanded coverage on Nov. 2 on both its main channel and multicast ch. 5.2 plus live streaming on its NBCChicago.com.