Election night 2012 TV coverage: What to watch and when

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

TV will be rife with election coverage on Tuesday evening, as cable channels do around-the-clock reporting and networks shift their prime-time programming to all-election, all-the-time specials, starting at 6 p.m. ET. With this year's heated presidential race, results from key battleground states could become more important than ever. Which means you'll likely want to tune in as votes start to trickle in.

Which programming will you watch, or will you channel surf? Take a look at our election night primer to plot your TV-viewing plan.

CBS News

"CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley will get election night coverage started with the 6:30 p.m. ET broadcast. He will continue with reports from Studio 57 into the wee hours of the morning (2 a.m. ET), alongside chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer, "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Norah O'Donnell and political director John Dickerson. Chief national correspondent Byron Pitts, "CBS This Morning" Saturday co-host Anthony Mason, political correspondent Jan Crawford and congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes will be reporting on the latest election news from all over the country.

CBSNews.com will have the latest updates and news, as well as live streaming.

ABC News

ABC News begins full-fledged election coverage at 6:30 p.m. ET, with the evening news. Diane Sawyer will host an election-heavy "World News," and will be joined by George Stephanopoulos from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. ET.

A host of reporters will be on hand to chime in on election results, including Katie Couric and Barbara Walters. Jake Tapper will be reporting from President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago, and several political analysts, including Matthew Dowd and Donna Brazile, will give their input on the heated race.

NBC News

After wrapping up his "Nightly News" duties, anchor Brian Williams will lead NBC's election night coverage from "Democracy Plaza" in New York from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. David Gregory and Savannah Guthrie will join him in the studio, while Tom Brokaw weighs in on historical trends. Andrea Mitchell, Lester Holt and Chuck Todd will provide other reporting and political analysis.

Fox News Channel

Co-anchors Megyn Kelly and Bret Baier kick off Fox News' election night coverage off at 6 p.m. ET, alongside political analysts Brit Hume, Chris Wallace and Juan Williams.

Ed Henry will be staked out at the Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago, and Carl Cameron will do live hits from the Romney headquarters in Boston. Bill O'Reilly and "On the Record" host Greta Van Susteren will also appear on the broadcast. Sarah Palin, Alaska's former governor, is also expected to make an appearance.


Rachel Maddow will host MSNBC's prime-time election coverage beginning at 7 p.m. ET. She'll be joined by Chris Matthews, Rev. Al Sharpton, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ed Schultz and Steve Schmidt. The MSNBC team will also include Tamron Hall, Melissa Harris-Perry, Chris Hayes and Alex Wagner. Chuck Todd, meanwhile, will report on battleground states.

PBS NewsHour

PBS gets in on the political action with help of anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff. New York Times writer David Brooks and syndicated columnist Mark Shields will join the hosts, along with Jeffrey Brown, Christina Bellantoni, Stuart Rothenberg. Hari Sreenivasan will use the multilayered NewsHour Digital Map Center to hone in on battleground states.


CNN's evening coverage gets under way at 6 p.m. ET with Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper hosting from Washington. Candy Crowley will report from Boston, and Erin Burnett will be going live from the battleground states of Ohio. Jim Acosta will hold down the fort at the Mitt Romney campaign headquarters in Boston; Mr. Obama's headquarters in Chicago will feature Jessica Yellin, Dan Lothian and Brianna Keilar.


C-SPAN's election coverage will include live victory and concession speeches, as well as highlights and footage from key congressional and gubernatorial races -- with results as they come out. Coverage begins at 8 p.m. ET.

Comedy Central

Political commentary in the form of humor will come from Comedy Central starting tonight at 11 p.m. ET. "Election Night 2012: This Ends Now" will star host Jon Stewart, along with Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Jason Jones, Al Madrigal, Aasif Mandvi, John Oliver and Jessica Williams. They will be reporting from the show's Obama and Romney headquarters and election center. "The Colbert Report" will also feature political coverage, titled, "Election 2012: A Nation Votes, Ohio Decides; The Re-Presidenting of America: Who Will Replace Obama? 2012!"


MTV has long been involved in the get-out-the-vote campaign, and so it comes as no surprise that the music and lifestyle cable channel is reporting on the 2012 presidential election. Sway Calloway will report from MTV studios in New York, Andrew Jenks will go live from Chicago, and James Montgomery will be at Romney's headquarters in Boston.


BET's election night programming, "Vote Like Your Life Depends On It," begins at 6 p.m. ET. Hosts T.J. Holmes and Ed Gordon will take over duties at 10 p.m. ET with "BATTLEGROUND 2012: Vote Night."

Tell us: What will you watch tonight?