St. Petersburg Times Online: Election 2000
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Electoral uncertainty keeps TV ratings up


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 11, 2000

The TV news industry may be wiping egg off its face over two mistaken predictions in Tuesday's election, but it hasn't kept viewers from watching in record numbers for information on the closest presidential election in history.

Both network news divisions and cable news channels saw solid ratings gains in the days after Tuesday's election, with particular viewership peaks in the morning and early evening news shows.

The NBC Nightly News led the networks in ratings Wednesday and Thursday, according to overnight ratings from Nielsen Media Research, followed by ABC's World News Tonight and CBS Evening News.

World News Tonight notched 2 point ratings increases over averages last week on Wednesday and Thursday -- a jump of more than 1-million viewers.

The stalemate has doubled and tripled ratings at 24-hour cable news channels CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel, which all offered continuous coverage Wednesday and Thursday.

CNN led the pack among cable channels, attracting an average of 2.3-million viewers Wednesday and 1.7-million viewers Thursday, followed by MSNBC and Fox News Channel.

"We've never seen a second day (election) rating that strong," said Christa Robinson, CNN spokesperson of Wednesday's totals. "It's extraordinary."

On Wednesday, the three network morning shows posted the highest ratings in their histories, as viewers awoke to find that late-night predictions of a George W. Bush victory had been retracted and the race was too close to call.

Once again, NBC's Today show came out on top, averaging 12.5-million viewers -- the highest ever for morning television.

Local stations also saw viewership gains, with NBC affiliate WFLA-Ch. 8 topping early evening and late night news ratings on Wednesday and Thursday with ratings about 50 percent higher than last week's averages.

In late hours, Fox station WTVT-Ch. 13 was a close second over Wednesday and Thursday, followed by CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10, ABC station WFTS-Ch. 28 and cable channel Bay News 9.

The interest was a happy headache for some Internet sites, which saw record traffic bring occasional technical glitches. reported 4-million viewers Wednesday -- five times last week's average.

The St. Petersburg Times' saw users jump from an average of 500 per second to more than 3,000 per second Friday, slowing service significantly.

The increase in traffic prompted a brief shut down of the site Friday to make sure hackers weren't at work, said Ron Dupont, general manager of web publishing at the Times.

- Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Back to Election 2000

Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Special Links
Tim Nickens
The Presidential race
Florida races
Pinellas races
Hillsborough races
Pasco races
Hernando races
Citrus races

From the Times election desk

Top stories
  • Bush camp urges Gore to concede
  • Election's winner likely a loser, too
  • Presence of absentees strongly felt
  • Election briefs

  • From Palm Beach County
  • A common cause

  • From the Tampa Bay area
  • Get on with it, frustrated voters begin to cry
  • Some black voters fault poll workers
  • Uncounted ballots remain mystery
  • How ballots are hand-counted
  • Electoral uncertainty keeps TV ratings up
  • Election fascinates students
  • Student takes politics to heart

  • Lucy Morgan
  • Florida comedy of errors offers some lessons

  • Alicia Caldwell
  • A rough week for elections supervisors

  • Sandra Thompson
  • Election Day, will you please go away?

  • State
  • Here come the election bills

  • From the AP
    national wire
  • Bush Pledges Iraq Arms Hunt Will Continue
  • 'Partial Birth' Abortion Ban Passes House