Yes we can tune him out

Numbers down for Obama's latest TV event

Most TV shows start strong in the ratings then decline as their novelty wears off. Apparently that trend also holds true for President Obama's primetime telecasts.

According to the national Nielsen ratings, Obama's news conference Tuesday night lost viewers compared with his two most recent heavily covered evening events.

The news special drew 40.4 million viewers, down 18% from Obama's Feb. 9 news conference and 23% from his Feb. 24 address to Congress. The numbers are the combined viewership from 11 cable and broadcast networks that carried the event.

On the plus side, some broadcasters that were grumpy about the president's primetime interruption nonetheless enjoyed a silver lining. With Obama clearing the night of the usual victor, Fox's "American Idol," several of the singing competition's rivals enjoyed heavy ratings gains over last week.

ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" results show was up a huge 39% (16.1 million viewers, 3.9 rating/ 10 share in adults 18-49). NBC's "The Biggest Loser" (9.8 million, 4.1/11) hit an eight-week high. CBS' "NCIS" (17.8 million, 4.0/10) also was strong. At 10 p.m., ABC's "Primetime" (8 million, 2.6/7) was up, while CBS' "The Mentalist" (17.6 million, 3.9/10) climbed sharply.

The sturdy lead-in provided by Obama's news conference also might have helped some of these shows. Typically, "Biggest Loser" and "NCIS" have to self-start at 8 p.m., while last week ABC had a low-rated recap episode to warm up the 9 p.m. "Dancing" audience.

As for the protest vote, the CW's "Reaper" (2.7 million, 1.1/3) at 8 p.m. was the only broadcast show to air against Obama and climbed 11% to hit a season high.

Despite the president's viewership softening Tuesday, he still draws large audiences to any program he visits. Obama went on NBC's "The Tonight Show" on March 19 and pulled in 8.9 million homes (national ratings are not available yet). On Sunday, more than 17 million watched CBS' "60 Minutes" featuring an extended interview with the president. (partialdiff)