NEW YORK — It’s not difficult to figure out which television networks are benefiting from the presidential election, and which ones should worry about next year.
Collectively, the news networks CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC averaged just under 10 million viewers in prime time last week, or 72 percent more than the same week in 2019, the Nielsen company said.
At a time most networks are grateful not to lose too many viewers year-to-year, Fox News’ average of 4.42 million last week was up 63 percent, MSNBC’s 2.75 million was up 38 percent and CNN’s 2.59 million represented an eye-popping 172 percent increase.
Gravity usually has a way of dealing with what goes up, and there’s concern about what will happen to the news networks when the election is over. That’s especially the case if the more conventional candidate, Democrat Joe Biden, beats President Donald Trump.
The vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Kamala Harris dominated the news last week, with the most people watching it on Fox News.
CBS won the week in prime time among the broadcast networks, averaging 5.8 million viewers. ABC had 5.7 million, NBC had 4.9 million, Fox had 4.3 million, Univision had 1.14 million, Telemundo had 1.06 million and Ion Television had 1.04 million.
After the cable news trio, TBS averaged 2.36 million and ESPN had 1.93 million.
ABC’s “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, averaging 8.2 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 7.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 5.3 million.