Interactions of the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) preinitiation complex (PIC) and paused early elongation complexes with the first downstream (+1) nucleosome are thought to be functionally important. However, current methods are limited for investigating these relationships, both for cellular chromatin and the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) genome. Digestion with human DNA fragmentation factor (DFF) before immunoprecipitation (DFF-ChIP) precisely revealed both similarities and major differences in PICs driven by TBP on the host genome in comparison with PICs driven by TBP or the viral-specific, late initiation factor UL87 on the viral genome. Host PICs and paused Pol II complexes are frequently found in contact with the +1 nucleosome and paused Pol II can also be found in a complex involved in the initial invasion of the +1 nucleosome. In contrast, viral transcription complexes have very limited nucleosomal interactions, reflecting a relative lack of chromatinization of transcriptionally active regions of HCMV genomes.