See how NBC News spun the numbers to make its election night ratings look better

Despite Fox News beating all other broadcast and cable networks by 2 million, NBC News issued a cleverly crafted press release that combined ratings to make its ratings look better than they were.

  • “NBC News and MSNBC together beat out all television networks across the board for last night’s coverage of the 2018 midterm election. According to Nielsen Media Research, The Vote: America’s Future averaged 10.439 million total viewers during primetime coverage of Election Night, including 3.636 million viewers in the key A25-54 news demographic,” starts a press release NBC issued.
  • However, the key phrase is “together” — the 10.439 million number represents the total ratings of both NBC the broadcast network and its cable network, MSNBC.

  • Fox News totaled 7.784 million, according to initial ratings data.
  • NBC was, however, the number one broadcast network — with 5.69 million, but that still pales in comparison to Fox News.
  • MSNBC, however, came in third in the cable news race at 4.479 million viewers, behind Fox and CNN.
  • CNN beat out Fox for viewership in the key demo — adults 25-54.
  • Because MSNBC content is produced by NBC News, it is accurate to say that NBC News’ content attracted more viewers than Fox, but no single network beat those numbers.
  • The release also manages to bury the fact MSNBC came in third among cable news.
  • It’s not uncommon for networks to manipulate ratings data to make their programming look better — and pretty much every network out there has done it at one time or another.
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