The days of watching Election Night coverage on a single television set may soon be a quaint anachronism.
Americans have an array of alternatives for following returns on Tuesday night. Television news divisions are throwing everything they have into the story, and second-screen options are abounding.
People will be able to construct their own media experiences, seek out desired information instead of waiting for it, participate in conversations and hear analysis that reflects their own perspectives or none in particular.
Virtually all of the media organizations — including Spanish-language television networks — promise a huge amount of information available online, from interactive maps that display state-by-state results to data from exit polls.
It’s expected to be a big night for social media, and news organizations say they will monitor the conversations and have their own journalists actively participate.
Don’t forget show biz: NBC is turning the Rockefeller Center skating rink into a giant map of the United States to be filled in with results. ABC will make Times Square into a virtual studio, displaying results and coverage on huge video screens and having Josh Elliott prowl around gathering reactions.
Here’s a quick guide to the lineup:
—Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos are ABC’s anchor team, handling the job on Election Night for the first time. They have some big-name firepower: Barbara Walters is offering historical perspective and Katie Couric monitoring social media. A separate live stream, anchored by Dan Harris, will be shown on ABC and partner Yahoo!’s web sites. Clearly anticipating a late night, ABC has scheduled a special "Nightline" for 2:35 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
—NBC’s Brian Williams is the sole returning anchor from past Election Nights among the top three networks. David Gregory and Savannah Guthrie will join him, with anchor emeritus Tom Brokaw talking about trends and history. Chuck Todd will fill the nuts-and-bolts-numbers role handled memorably by the late Tim Russert. NBC will live stream its coverage on various platforms, including Facebook.
—Scott Pelley of CBS News will also be anchoring his first Election Night broadcast, with Bob Schieffer, Norah O’Donnell and John Dickerson will join him. Byron Pitts is monitoring congressional races, and Anthony Mason analyzing exit poll data.
—CNN is activating a battalion for its coverage from its new Washington studio. Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper are the anchors, with 10 analysts lined up to deliver opinions. The network is also dispatching 29 reporters to 20 separate locations across the country, including five in Ohio and two in New Hampshire.
—Bret Baier and Megyn Kelly are co-anchors for Fox News Channel’s coverage, with analysis from Chris Wallace and Brit Hume. Bill O’Reilly and Greta Van Susteren will appear, the latter assigned to interview Sarah Palin throughout the evening. Fox also appears to be the only network with a reporter, Eric Shawn, assigned to cover voter fraud. The Fox broadcasting network airs separate coverage anchored by Shepard Smith. The Fox Business Network will also have its own coverage, anchored by Neil Cavuto with Stuart Varney and Lou Dobbs.
—Rachel Maddow is the star of MSNBC’s show, with the rest of the network’s prime-time team chiming in. Like big brother NBC, MSNBC’s coverage will originate from the Democracy Plaza set at Rockefeller Center.
—PBS is offering online coverage all day Election Day, switching to TV in the evening. Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff will be co-anchors. PBS has its own team of historians, Michael Beschloss and Richard Norton Smith, to take the big picture approach.
—C-SPAN will also take its minimalist approach to coverage on its two separate networks, offering results and victory and concession speeches from around the country.
—Former Vice President Al Gore, the star of his own Election Night drama 12 years ago, will spend Tuesday leading Current’s coverage, which also prominently features live Twitter streams.
—For those who want specific ideological filters, Glenn Beck is in charge of Election Night coverage on his website The Blaze, and The Daily Kos website is promoting its own radio commentary.
—Longtime CNN anchor Larry King will be on duty Election Night on the digital network Ora TV.
For Spanish-language television viewers, there’s a variety of networks to tune in, too.
— CNN en Español will broadcast U.S. election coverage, beginning at 7 p.m. (EST). Leading the coverage will be the network’s senior political anchor Juan Carlos López, along with anchors Patricia Janiot, Fernando del Rincón, Carmen Aristegui, Xavier Serbiá, Guillermo Arduino and Alejandra Oraa and political contributors Juan Hernández, María Cardona, Roberto Izurieta and Charles Garcia. They will be reporting from the CNN World Headquarters Studio 7 in Atlanta. The network will have correspondents reporting from all over the world in countries like Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Spain and Jerusalem, talking to the people in these countries about the U.S. election. U.S.-based reporters will be all over the country. CNN en Español reaches 30 million households in Latin America and 7 million households in the United States.
— Univision, the most dominant Spanish-language network in the United States, will air on television, online, mobile, radio and via social media. Live coverage on Tuesday kicks off at 7 p.m. (EST) through 3 a.m. (EST) from its “Election Center” in Miami, with longtime anchors Jorge Ramos and María Elena Salinas leading a team of journalists and political analysts. The in-studio analysts will be Helen Aguirre and Alfonso Aguilar, Republican analysts, Fabian Núñez, Democratic analyst, Sergio Bendixen, Democratic and Hispanic voter analyst.
— Telemundo’s “Decision 2012” begins its coverage at 7 p.m. live from “Democracy Plaza” in New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Anchoring will be José Díaz-Balart, who will be joined by political analysts Jorge Castañeda, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, María Echaveste and Adolfo Franco. The network said thousands of people will gather around an interactive electoral map superimposed on the landmark’s iconic ice-skating rink. The results will then be projected against the facades of surrounding buildings.
Miami Herald Staff contributed to this report.