ABC's coverage tops ratings

NEW YORK — More than 65 million people watched Election Night returns Tuesday on the main broadcast and cable news networks.

Preliminary Nielsen Media Research estimates show that ABC News, with Charles Gibson leading a team that broadcast from New York's Times Square, won bragging rights with 13.1 million prime-time viewers.

That topped CNN's 12.3 million and NBC's 12 million. CNN essentially doubled its audience from the 2004 Election Night, reflecting how cable is increasingly the go-to choice for television news. NBC had 15.2 million viewers four years ago, when Tom Brokaw and the late Tim Russert led in the ratings.

Nielsen did not immediately have a full audience estimate for the countdown to Obama's win, which would also include viewers who watched returns on networks such as CNBC and BET.

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