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.