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December 13, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 8:43am

4.7m watch BBC election coverage led by Huw Edwards as Channel 4 audience halves

By Charlotte Tobitt

The BBC’s first overnight election coverage not led by David Dimbleby in nearly 40 years has maintained its place at the top of the TV ratings.

BBC News at Ten anchor Huw Edwards helmed the 11-hour marathon for the first time, drawing in a reported 4.26m viewers on BBC One between 9.55pm and 2am, only slightly down from 4.4m for the last election in 2017.

It peaked at 6.1m between 10.05pm and 10.10pm as the results of the exit poll, which predicted a sizeable Conservative majority, were analysed.

Dimbleby had planned to host his final general election broadcast in 2015, but decided to work through the night again for the 2016 EU referendum and the 2017 election, his tenth as anchor.

According to BBC journalist Lizo Mzimba, an additional 0.39m viewers watched overnight on the BBC News Channel, bringing the combined average viewership of the corporation’s coverage to 4.65m.

Edwards was joined by “inquisitor-in-chief” Andrew Neil, political editor Laura Kuenssberg and other colleagues, including Jeremy Vine, Naga Munchetty and Reeta Chakrabarti.

The BBC revealed on Saturday that its election programming reached a total of 26.5m viewers with a record 27.3m browsers of BBC News online in the UK.

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ITV said it had its highest viewing figures for a general election night since 2005, with an average of 1.4m viewers between 10pm and 2am.

Host Tom Bradby and guests Evening Standard editor George Osborne and former shadow chancellor Ed Balls were watched by an average of 2.6m viewers in the first ten minutes after the exit poll was announced.

ITV said its figure was up 27 per cent from 2017 and that it had accounted for 20.4 per cent of all the election result coverage, up from 15.5 per cent at the last election.

Sky has said its overnight coverage between 9pm and 9am, hosted by Dermot Murnaghan, reached more than 2.7m people across Sky News and Sky One.

It had a peak of 2m viewers as the exit poll came in at 10pm on Sky News on TV, online and on its app, and an average of 270,000 viewers across the 12-hour programme.

But Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night more than halved its average viewership from 582,000 with Jeremy Paxman in 2017 to 244,000.

The programme, hosted by Channel 4 News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy with comedian Katharine Ryan and Celebrity Big Brother winner Rylan Clark-Neal, was on air between 9.55pm and 6am, but viewing figures only cover the period to 2am.

The election also drove some record readership figures for news websites.

The i editor Oly Duff said the title’s website broke its audience record three days in a row, culminating at 7.51pm last night – just over two hours before the polls closed. He said 22 of the 25 top stories at that time were politics.

CLARIFICATION: This article originally shared reported figures claiming that Sky News’ coverage was seen by an audience of 45,700 overnight viewers. It has now been amended to reflect figures since shared with Press Gazette by Sky.

Picture: BBC

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