According to Nielsen, around 30.6 million people tuned in by traditional television to watch Donald J. Trump take the presidential oath of office on Friday. While this was slightly lower than the 37.8 who tuned in to watch Barack Obama take the oath back in 2009, it is the second highest Nielsen total since Reagan took the oath back in 1981. While this should be considered significant on its face (traditional TV news ratings have been steadily declining since the 80’s), it’s also important to note that Nielsen does not factor in online viewership. CNN, for example, tracked nearly 17 million total live streams of its inauguration day coverage; its highest viewership for an inauguration ever and tied with their election day coverage for the network’s highest live stream viewership of all time.
Online viewership for news and entertainment events has tracked up sharply since Obama’s inauguration in 2008; with a larger and larger percentage of the population viewing online video on a daily basis. Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and many other large portals all offered live streams of the inauguration that were viewed by millions of people. While it is unlikely that all of the viewership numbers from these sources will be able to be compiled and released (absolutely confirming that this was, by far, the most viewed inauguration in history), it does cast a shadow over the mainstream media’s newest narrative that “no one” attended or cared about Trump officially becoming the 45th president.
What do you think? Did online viewership easily make this the most watched inauguration of all time? Or is it possible that Obama’s first was still somehow higher? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.