March 9, 2021

Biden’s Inauguration Scores Bigger TV Ratings Than Trump’s

The numbers held steady for Mr. Biden’s festivities throughout Wednesday. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., an average combined audience of 29.4 million viewers were watching the six networks on Wednesday, versus the 27 million who watched four years ago. In the five-hour block, CNN had the biggest audience (7.7 million viewers) among the major broadcast and cable networks, and Fox News had the smallest (2.1 million).

The numbers seemed to be a continuation of a ratings trend for so-called good news moments for Mr. Biden. On Nov. 7, when Mr. Biden held a prime-time victory speech several hours after major outlets had projected him the election winner, CNN scored huge numbers and Fox News’s audience stayed away.

The early Nielsen figures do not include streaming statistics, so surely the audience for both inaugurals was significantly higher. Nielsen is expected to release final figures for Wednesday’s total audience in the coming days, which will also include some streaming data, as well as out-of-home viewing in hotels or restaurants.

One thing that Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump have in common: Their inaugurations were no competition to former President Barack Obama’s first address. More than 51 million people watched Mr. Obama’s opening speech in 2009, according to Nielsen.

The numbers from Wednesday could sting Mr. Trump, who frequently mocked television personalities for any evidence of sliding Nielsen figures. And it was not the first time he had lost in a television ratings battle to Mr. Biden. In October, the two went head-to-head in town-hall-style events. The broadcast featuring Mr. Biden, on ABC, notched 15.1 million viewers, compared with the 13.5 million who watched Mr. Trump on NBC, MSNBC and CNBC.

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