Business

The election might be driving us crazy — but massive ratings and traffic show no one's turning away

Posted November 6, 2020 7:40 p.m. EST

— Ratings reports and web traffic data show that the contested presidential election has captivated a large segment of the country.

Some digital operations, including CNN's, have set new records for overall audience.

This week also accounted for two of the most-watched days in CNN's forty year history.

Local news websites in battleground states have reported big upticks in traffic, too.

The off-the-charts interest in the election outcome was palpable on Tuesday, the day traditionally known as Election Day.

While overall television viewership of the prime time election coverage was down from 2016 highs, live news streaming traffic was way up, according to Akamai.

Streaming traffic peaked at a point that was roughly five times greater "than traffic on a typical day," the content delivery network company said, and more than double the 2016 election night peak, "which set a record at the time for the largest single news event that Akamai delivered."

Tuesday night ended without a clear winner in the presidential race, so Wednesday was an even bigger day for some major news sources. Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO of The New York Times, said its coverage "brought 120 million readers to The Times" on Wednesday, and "more than 75 million came the day before."

CNN Digital recorded 67 million plus unique visitors on Tuesday and nearly twice as many, 116 million, on Wednesday.

It was CNN Digital's "biggest day in history," editor in chief Meredith Artley said on Twitter.

"The entire global team is so proud of this reach and responsibility," she wrote. "And here for today and all to come."

CBS News also said that Wednesday was a bigger day than Tuesday for its streaming service CBSN. The service set new records for total minutes watched on each day.

Through midday Friday, NBC News Digital amassed nearly 500 million total views "across all video and election content since the start of the election," an NBC spokeswoman said.

Nail-biter contests in several battleground states also spurred very high television news viewership. Fox News was the highest-rated cable news channel on Tuesday night, while CNN was No. 1 on Wednesday and Thursday, showing widespread interest in the minute by minute vote counting coverage.

Wednesday was CNN's "second most-watched day in the network's 40 year history, just following Election Day 2016," the network said in a press release. Thursday ranked No. 6 of all time.

On the web, The Washington Post said that Tuesday and Wednesday were both "record-setting days;" on Wednesday the Post website had its "highest number of pageviews in history by over 40%."

According to a Post spokeswoman, the news outlet has also "dramatically increased our international reach" this week, "more than doubling readership among users in countries including Canada, the UK and Australia."

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