A man stops to watch election returns on electronic billboards in Times Square, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in New York.
Cable and broadcast news divisions followed the story closely, even as they learned that election night coverage was a relative dud with viewers.
An estimated 56.9 million people watched coverage over 21 networks during primetime hours Tuesday, down sharply from the 71.4 million viewers on election night 2016, the Nielsen company said.
For weeks, media outlets had warned that Americans would need patience on election night and beyond, and that turned out to be their most accurate prediction.
Even if Biden won the presidency, Democrats were sure to face questions about why the race was so close and why predicted gains in Congress didn't materialize.