Nielsen says 36.1 million people watched midterm returns

Fox News announces U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, as the winner over challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, during the Dallas County Republican Party election night watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 at The Statler Hotel in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

NEW YORK (AP) — There was a good election turnout on television, too.

The Nielsen company said Wednesday that 36.1 million people watched midterm election results on TV, a whopping 59 percent increase over the last midterms in 2014. For the last midterm election during Barack Obama's presidency, an estimated 22.7 million people watched the counting.

Nielsen said it was the largest midterm election audience dating back to 2002.

Fox News Channel led the way with 7.78 million viewers. Not only did Fox have the biggest audience, it made the boldest move of any network in declaring that Democrats would take control of the House of Representatives far ahead of its rivals, and its election team proved to be correct.

NBC was second with an average of 5.69 million viewers in prime time. ABC had 5.26 million, CNN had 5.07 million, MSNBC had 4.75 million and CBS had 3.86 million, Nielsen said.

The broadcast networks sensed the interest, providing three hours of coverage, up from one hour in prime time during the more recent midterms.

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