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Half as Many People Watched Obama’s 2013 Inauguration as in 2009

President Obama Attends Prayer Service At National Cathedral
(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Did you miss the big event in D.C. last weekend? You weren’t alone.Besides several viewers (my wife included) being miffed that the CBS coverage of the inaugural events blew out favorite TV programming, there were a lot of other people who found better things to do with their Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday than watch Obama take his oath.

While Deadline Hollywood did not politically analyze the ratings, they did do a thorough breakdown of who watched what on which network. It’s interesting to note that normally Fox News blows CNN, NBC, MSNBC (as well as other mainstream media) out of the water on a daily basis.

However, CNN‘s coverage of the events, which ran from about 10 a.m. through 4:30 p.m., drew over 3.1 million viewers — nearly twice the number who watched on Fox. According to the Nielsen Ratings, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC saw their combined numbers drop by nearly 10 million viewers compared to 2009’s inauguration.

It’s not too hard to draw that conclusion that more CNN viewers would be tuned in to watch Obama on a network that largely supported him during his campaign, while Fox tended to go the other way.

Similar results occurred for ABC, CBS and NBC. When you crunch the numbers overall, Obama’s first swearing in drew a 13.2 rating, meaning 13.2 percent of all available television viewers during the time of the event were watching.

For this year, that number plummeted to 7.1. It’s doubtful the White House is worried about TV ratings. Some of the drop could be attributed, say critics, to the euphoria of Obama’s promise of “hope and change” just after the 2009 election. After all, he was the first African-American elected to the Oval Office.

The drop is not also not attributed to any significant competing television event. The rest of the TV schedule was fairly straightforward with soap operas, game shows and daytime programming aimed at children.

By the way, the all-time record for TV viewership for a presidential inauguration was set inĀ  January 1981 when over 41 million Americans watched Ronald Reagan take the oath of office.

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