Gary Levin, USA TODAY

President Obama's second victory was less popular than his first, at least in terms of TV coverage.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings for Tuesday night's election coverage showed CNN again led cable rivals, as it did in 2008: From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. ET, CNN drew 8.8 million viewers, Fox News Channel claimed 8.7 million, and MSNBC averaged 4.6 million.

Early numbers for the broadcast networks covered just the 8 to 11 p.m. time frame in all time zones. And there, NBC led rivals with 12.6 million viewers; ABC was second with 11.1 million; CBS third with 8.4 million; and Fox, which aired separate coverage from its sibling cable network, had 5 million.

All except CBS were down vs. comparable ratings four years ago, and are subject to change when final ratings -- likely to be slightly lower -- are issued late Wednesday.

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