Skip to main content

No TV Cameras for Second Swear-in

The swearing-in of the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday pulled in nearly 38 million viewers, second only to Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration. Coverage of Tuesday’s inaugural events from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST netted a 25.5 rating, or a total of nearly 29 million households. In terms of rating, e.g., the percentage of TV households, Barack Obama’s inauguration landed right around the middle of the last 10 inaugurations measured by Nielsen.

Nearly 30 percent of households in the top 56 markets watched the day’s events on TV. Raleigh-Durham, N.C. had the most, with 51 percent of households tuning. Washington, D.C. was next, with nearly 48 percent. East Coast markets, where the swearing-in aired around noon, had the highest rates of tune-in.

Seattle was at the bottom, with less than 19 percent veiwership. Los Angeles also ranked toward the bottom, with 22 percent, along with other West Coast markets, where the swearing-in aired at 9 a.m. Denver, San Diego, Phoenix, San Francisco, Sacramento and Portland, Ore., all had less than 25 percent tune-in.

All of the people who did see the ceremonial swearing-in witnessed Chief Justice John Roberts trip over the recitation. The Supreme Court Justice popped around to the White House yesterday for a do-over, but the TV press weren’t invited, according to Ed Henry, senior White House correspondent for CNN.

“Word started spreading that White House officials had invited just a small group of print journalists in to witness the historic moment a second time, but had failed to invite a representative from the five major U.S. television networks,” Henry wrote at CNN.com. “CNN and other television networks have complained to the White House but have not gotten a clear answer from White House officials about why the video cameras were locked out.”

PresidentDateHH RatingHouseholdsViewers P2+Barack Obama Jan. 20, 2009 -Tues 25.528,906,06137,793,008Ronald Reagan Jan. 20, 1981-Tue 37.429,100,00041,800,260Richard Nixon Jan. 20, 1969 - Mon 33.518,870,00027,007,700Jimmy Carter Jan. 20, 1977-Thu 31.522,430,00034,127,090Richard Nixon Jan. 20, 1973-Sat 28.518,470,00032,950,900Bill Clinton Jan. 20, 1993-Wed 24.522,758,11129,721,041Ronald Reagan Jan. 20, 1985-Sun 22.318,925,55625,053,886George W. Bush Jan. 20, 2001-Sat 20.821,346,40029,008,200George H.W. Bush Jan. 20, 1989-Fri 2018,106,00023,316,325Bill Clinton Jan. 20, 1997-Mon 17.116,515,00021,583,000George W. Bush Jan. 20, 2005-Thu 11.812,928,70915,536,652© 2009 The Nielsen Company