Was Tuesday A Milestone for TV News?

Brian Stelter, at his New York Times TV Decoder blog, reports that Tuesday night “may have been only the second time in history that a cable network attracted more viewers than a broadcaster during a major news event” (the first was when Fox News Channel had more viewers than the non-cable networks during the 2004 Republican National Convention). “The event” this time was Barack Obama’s victory speech, for which CNN had 4.73 million viewers (“the largest primary night audience for cable news this year”) and ABC, the only broadcast network that “interrupted its entertainment programming for the speech” (interesting to note by itself) had less than 4 million (exact network numbers due out today).

ABC News execs tell Stelter that “the cable-to-broadcast comparison is unfair” for a variety of reasons, including “because CNN spent hours building its audience” prior to the speech.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.