ABC News to Devote Five Hours of Live Coverage to Super Tuesday

Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos to Anchor ABC's Showdown Coast to Coast from New York

ABC News is going wall-to-wall on Super Tuesday with five hours of live coverage beginning at 8 p.m. (EST). Charles Gibson, Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos will anchor ABC's Showdown Coast to Coast from New York with reports from correspondents at campaign headquarters in various states.

Five hours of primetime is unprecedented for a broadcast-news division in recent years, but Super Tuesday -- during which 22 states and American Samoa will hold caucuses or primaries -- is also unprecedented and has the potential to put the Democratic and Republican races in sharp relief.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, broadcast networks devoted minimal significant coverage to Super Tuesday, in most cases relying on live news cut-ins that didn't significantly interrupt primetime entertainment schedules.

But with the Writers Guild of America strike depleting networks of original scripted dramas and comedies and the overwhelming interest in the race translating to robust ratings for cable news channels, the 2008 campaign presents a no-brainer for broadcast networks.

CBS News announced Tuesday that its live coverage would expand from a planned one hour to two hours. NBC -- which provides extensive coverage on sister network MSNBC -- is expected to follow suit and mount significant live coverage on the broadcast network Tuesday.