MEDIA

Obama Inauguration Ratings: 20 Million Tune In

walk down Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Thousands marched during the
walk down Pennsylvania Avenue en route to the White House, Monday, Jan. 21, 2013, in Washington. Thousands marched during the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade after the ceremonial swearing-in of President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

A little over 20 million people watched President Obama's second inauguration on television, Nielsen reported Wednesday afternoon.

The ratings agency counted up the viewers across 18 different networks. It said that 20.552 million people watched coverage airing from 10 AM to 4:30 PM on Monday. (CNN was the top-rated cable news network, and NBC the top-rated broadcast network.)

The numbers were a steep drop from Obama's first inauguration, which drew 37 million viewers, and was the second-lowest rating for an inauguration since 1969, as the New York Times' Bill Carter noted.

This is not surprising: TV viewership is down for all programs, not just inaugurations, and second inaugurations are rarely as popular as first ones.

Obama did manage to easily beat George W. Bush, his immediate predecessor, who drew just 15.5 million viewers for his second inauguration. He was well behind the highest-rated second inaugural -- Richard Nixon's in 1973. That speech was watched by over 32 million.

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Inauguration 2013