Obama Inauguration Proves Less of a Ratings Draw Than in 2009

Cable news viewership sinks by roughly 10 million during the half-hour swearing in, with CNN topping MSNBC and Fox News Channel.
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President Barack Obama

The second time was no charm for President Obama's Inauguration ratings. Given the commander-in-chief's second-term status and the holiday weekend, Nielsen's Fast National ratings for the Monday event predictably were down.

The key half-hour (11:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. ET), which saw the president's swearing in and performances by Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce, was down by nearly 10 million viewers across the three cable news networks. Combined averages from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel's showings in the time period gave the event shy of 7 million viewers.

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Final numbers won't be in until Wednesday, but as it stands, CNN topped the half-hour and primetime in total viewers and the key demo. The network, which officially welcomed Jeff Zucker as its new president Monday, averaged 3.14 million viewers during the swearing in -- 1.11 million of them in the key adults 25-54 demo. In primetime, CNN averaged 3.57 million total viewers, with 1.27 adults 25-54.

MSNBC was in a second place at 11:45 a.m. (2.27 million viewers, 706,000 adults 25-54) before falling to third in primetime (1.1 million viewers, 354,000 adults 25-54). As for Fox News, the network brought in 1.32 million viewers and 294,000 adults 25-54 for the actual inauguration and 1.10 million viewers (227,000 adults 25-54) in primetime.

Obama's 2009 inauguration ceremony, held the day after Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, averaged nearly 38 million viewers with cable and broadcast networks combined.