Donald Trump Inauguration Draws 30.6 Million Viewers, Fewer Than Obama in 2009

Donald Trump Inauguration
SHAWN THEW/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

Donald Trump’s inauguration day ceremonies grabbed 30.6 million viewers on Friday, significantly lower than the crowd that turned out for Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009.

Nielsen measured the 12 networks that aired any live coverage of inaugural events between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Obama’s history-making first time out averaged 37.7 million viewers. The highest-rated inauguration remains Ronald Reagan in 1981, which brought in 41.8 million viewers.

The Trump inauguration drew 2.8 million viewers 18-34, 7.2 million 35-54, and 19.2 million 55 and over. Nielsen measured viewership on ABC, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business Network, Fox New Channel, Galavision, HLN, and MSNBC. Fox News was the most watched network, averaging 8.8 million viewers from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.

Trump’s inauguration ranked as the fifth highest in total viewers, behind Reagan 1982, Obama 2009, Jimmy Carter 1977 (34.1 million), and Richard Nixon 1973 (33 million). The 2013 Obama inauguration drew an audience of 20.6 million. Trump edged out Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration (29.7 million) and George W. Bush 2001 (29 million).

In household ratings — percentage of households tuning in — Trump ranks a mere ninth with a 20.1 rating. That puts him behind Reagan 1981 (37.4), Nixon 1969 (33.5), Carter 1977 (31.5), Nixon 1973 (28.5), Obama 2009 (25.5), Clinton 1993 (24.5), Reagan 1985 (22.3), and George W. Bush 2001 (20.8). It puts him barely ahead of Georg H.W. Bush’s 1989 inauguration (20.0).

Trump has shown himself to be sensitive to television ratings. Earlier this month, he blasted the rebooted “New Celebrity Apprentice,” on which he serves as executive producer, because its premiere rating fell short of the standards set by the show when Trump served as its host (and when ratings across television, due to lack of competition, skewed far higher). “Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ (or destroyed) by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT,” the then-president-elect tweeted. “So much for being a movie star — and that was season 1 compared to season 14. Now compare him to my season 1.”

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  1. J Ryzlot says:

    Cretins – NOBODY watches cable any more – we are all fed up with excessive advertising for one – but FAKE NEWS even more

    JR

  2. southofcincy says:

    Does Trump’s viewing numbers include those who watched via the internet? Doesn’t sound like it. (That’s what I did)

  3. These show of mob mentality by women groups is hollow and empty. The new President, not even one day in office, has done nothing to raise the hackles of these activists. If statements made by the President while canvassing is their grouse, then its silly, seeing what the celebrities were mouthing against Trump during run up to the election and after that. Instead these women should group up against the ISIS or the Taliban, which they will never do being cowards.

  4. Trumps supporters had to be at work, and could not watch the inauguration.

  5. Trina says:

    It’s because we had to see it to believe it. But still can’t.

  6. Ben says:

    Trump easily beat the 2013 Obama inauguration in TV ratings … This shows what we all knew … The country is turning more conservative.

  7. Kathy says:

    Not really shocking or meaningful. Obama was the first black President. Whether you like him or not it wa memorable.

  8. Betsy Ross says:

    Who cares who drew more people? Obama turned out to be one of the worst, if not THE worst president in the history of the United States of America.

    • Anonymous says:

      @Betsy Ross

      It is historically ignorant to say Obama was the worst U.S. president. Warren G. Harding or James Buchanan were significantly worse.

      You are ignorant. This is not a defense of Obama. This is not ad hominem. I’m stating a fact. You are clueless when it comes to the subject of history.

      To think that you were allowed (and even encouraged) to vote makes me very angry. To think that your ignorance and worldview is tolerated and supported in the US, that you are allowed to spread clueless rhetoric unchallenged (until I came along), is a total outrage.

  9. Kate says:

    Thats not true about people being at work! If they wanted to see Trump they would have been there. The fact is Trump is not the most popular candidate. Trump knows nothing of the true working class. America will regret Trump being in the white house.

  10. Steve Cline says:

    I find it really quaint that people are still viewing anything on TV in 2017. Next shocker for me is that someone read about the inauguration in a newspaper. If Trump drew 30 million viewers on TV, I can’t imagine how many viewed it on a more current, relevant medium like streaming video.

  11. Chris R says:

    Thats because the people who cared to see Trumps inauguration have jobs they had to be at…

  12. Wheelerdude says:

    So the total was less than Obama, what is the point? Most likely Trump supporters were at work!

  13. Jeb S says:

    Don’t forget the tens of millions of online viewers.

  14. Govan says:

    Point is he outdrew Obama by 10 million this time over 2013. Remember every african American in the country went to the first inauguration if they could for the first African American President! Seriously you guys in the media are doing nothing but trying to get people riled up to fill your 24/7 news cycle! I am not an American so I am neither pro nor anti Trump but any new leader deserves a chance. The media is getting to be the news instead of distributing it to us. Sadly many millions no longer trust you now, you have too much of an adgenda.

    • Petter says:

      He has already gotten his chance when he picked his cabinet and having Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, as fourth in line for the presidency shows that he is not interested in helping the average American but to enrich himself and the rich donors of the Republican party. Actions speak louder than words.

      • Kathy says:

        Listen Sweetie, if you look at Clinton’s potential cabinet choices they weren’t eating Denny’s. There were many wealthy people on the list. When did it become bad in America to be wealthy? Talk about getting wealthy. How did Bill and Hilly get to be worth over 100 mil on gov salaries. Selling a few books and giving speeches don’t pull in that kind of cash

  15. You honkies are always throwing out fake stats but when someone shows that there just arent that many of you then you get all pissed. Fuck Trump and fuck you for voting for a disrespectful asshole that knows nothing about politics. And for those that want to blame job loss on Obama you are just too stupid to get an IT degree and keep up with the changing times. Your days of going to work and turn knobs and push buttons at a factory are counted. Good for your dumb asses.

    • Kathy says:

      Lamont you are ignorant and rude. Obama is the first Pres in decades to not have +3% growth. Not enough good jobs added because of onerous regulation and Obamacare. I have watched politics all of my life. Obama had very little experience and never run a business in his life. Clinton may have had more experience. Not much. She was a first lady which doesn’t count. But she had a lot of shady stuff that has followed her since Arkansas. Who wants that? The crap she pulled at the State Dept was ridiculous as well as being ineffective.

    • Jeb S says:

      LOL. Who’s disrespectful?? You are. That’s why Donald won. Real Americans are tired of arrogant, ignorant fools who wallow in the things they condemn. You’re the real dumb ass, and you don’t know it. I hope you can wake up before your life is over. Here’s to the next 8 years of a Trump presidency! #MAGA

  16. Bob bittner says:

    So he MAY have had less viewers or attendance. Does this mean he will not preform for the people. To the morons, liberals or Democrats who think this is important, Your days are #’ed.

  17. Marc Monroe says:

    Angry press statement claiming that more people tuned in than any other inauguration in history, period in 3… 2… 1…

  18. Bob says:

    Completely misleading, if you keep in mind that TV is pretty much dead; Instead of watching the inauguration on the TV, now most people are just streaming it from the internet…. and I can’t believe I have to explain that…

    So yeah,… and Trump really had low radio listeners during the inauguration compared to Roosevelt too…

    What a stupid point for this article to make, in an overt attempt to be relevant by pushing fake news. You are a den of vipers and thieves; and your days are numbered with Trump in charge. Good luck! You will need it.

  19. Dan says:

    And of course, everyone is in agreement as far as the Neilsen Ratings being such a wonderful representation of the hundreds of millions of TV’s in American homes. Not.

  20. Eric says:

    They were livestreaming it.

  21. Ren says:

    Probably because the people who voted for Trump were at work.

  22. People are crazy.. D.C. was packed with people, even though there were threats of violence, protest and assassination, people showed up in the rain. The media did show bogus pictures of the crowd. Why? Just report the news truthfully, that is your only job.

  23. Tracey says:

    What is this. Variety is reputable reporting agency. What type of calculations are these. You are making the crybaby look right. In addition, this article is being used as source for other articles. Print a retraction and get it right. Thank you.

  24. Black Warrior says:

    i dont like donald trump really

  25. Jim Scott says:

    Apparently missed by Variety and possibly its target audience, is the fact that ratings mean less than nothing.

  26. Al Langevin says:

    So mostly old people watched, many of those older angry Caucasians. Let’s show the photo of the pathetic turnout at the actual inauguration. That’s pretty funny.

  27. off2shop says:

    Trumps supporters showed up at the voter booths when he needed us the most! Remember 93,000,000 people on unemployment thanks to Obama couldn’t afford to make the trip. Also, popular vote and $5.25 will get Hillary a cup of coffee, not the presidency!!

    • Tracey says:

      There are over 300million people in America. You said 93 million are on unemployment. That’s about 33% versus the 5% that’s actually unemployed. WTH. THIS IS WHY IT IS SO WRONG TO CUT AMERICAN EDUCATION. The freak.

    • jsm1963 says:

      You take away retirees, teens, college students, stay-at-home moms, etc… that number is actually about 8.5 million.

  28. Nielsen ratings do not account for online viewing, which has grown sharply in recent years and is far more commonplace than even four years ago. CNN, for example, clocked 16.9 million streams on its website, tying with Election Day for the site’s top event.

  29. MrPete says:

    They didn’t bother counting online or international network broadcasts. I watched but not on the networks sampled. So I can personally attest the numbers are incorrect.

  30. Lily says:

    Hah. For all the whinging about “libtards” wanting “safe spaces”, I see only one group of people here whinging away about plain cold numbers, and they aren’t liberals.

    You got this for POTUS, voted by your electoral system and not the number of votes actually polled in favour of the winning candidate, now it’s yours to deal with. And if you disagree, then get out there and express that protest – and don’t give in to despair, future elections are the time to act instead of sitting back and being complacent.

  31. Alia Que says:

    How about the high number of social media followers President Trump has?

    A group of people who live behind fenced compounds, security guards and protected from the Deplorables are having a dummy spit.

    Hollywood, you are suffering from relevance deprivation syndrome.

    One of the reasons for the low ratings is that people were watching via streaming. Not only that, why watch it on networks that deliberately manifest their left wing ideology?

    After all you whinge and cry and dummy spit, the real people of America, those that work hard to put food on your table, in most cases WORKING MULTIPLE jobs to do so, saw through your propganda.

    The reality is, we have a President Trump, voted by a silent majority.

    The Deplorables have won.

    One final thing. The fact that the Clinton’s “Charities” are closing down post election, actually show how deceitful Hollywood is. Hollywood paid, only because it wanted to play.

    So much for having a set of values.

  32. Alexander says:

    If this is a contest then Trump still won

  33. tessie says:

    Most people under age 50 have cut cable/mainstream TV channels. These figures in the article don’t take into consideration the multitudes who watched online/YouTube. Variety wants to still believe dino-TV stations are the only relevant measure.

    • Smith Cassidy says:

      Speculation, unless you have the online data?

      • tessie says:

        Try to keep up. It’s called Google. These concepts and stats are easily available, but you’ll need to find them for yourself if you’re sufficiently interested.

    • jsm1963 says:

      This story is about the TV ratings, not about online viewership.

      • tessie says:

        No, according to this “clickbait” headline and misleading first sentence, this story claims to provide VIEWER numbers. Irresponsible and misleading – exactly why the press has rightly been criticized lately.

  34. Denise says:

    trump must really think the people are stupid! A picture is worth a thousand words, and no matter how he tries ti spin it, it was not “bigly” ratings.

  35. sailingsam says:

    I did not watch even one second of it…

  36. Stan O. says:

    Who the hell really cares about the crowd size ! My God just like a little kid. The stupid shit is starting all over again . Fucken grow up.

    • Steve says:

      Trump does, why do you think its even a story? Soon as someone posted pics of the smaller crowds he had his team racing to refute it because he is a narcissist. If he didn’t have his office say anything no one would even be talking about it right now.

    • jsm1963 says:

      Variety reports on television ratings for a living. They do this for every televised presidential event.

    • JimG. says:

      Trump certainly seems to care. His Facebook account had a photo of Obama 2009 rather than the empty panoramic shot of his. And his Press Secretary was rather combative about the coverage of how widely embraced Trump’s inauguration wasn’t. He certainly wanted to beat Obama’s numbers, and all evidence says that he didn’t in spite of what Spicer insists it was. He absolutely does care in that juvenile, pathological need to be the center of the universe.

    • Jack says:

      Perfectly said.

  37. Probably Obama had more being the first black man elected. Trump outwitted the Dems, Republicans, Media, and Establishment. He runs a third party, under the Republican party’s nose. He has a lot of powerful enemies that will use the young college people to do their dirty work against Trump.

  38. Marie says:

    Didn’t even turn on the tv at all yesterday.

  39. Joshua says:

    Bacteria that kills its host has a record turnout too. Libratard should be a country so that it can legislate itself out of existence.

    • Mary H.Linden says:

      If the truth hurts so much and all you can come up with is name-calling, why don’t you go watch Sean Spicer’s press briefing. It has all the lies about the inauguration I’m sure you’ll appreciate. Less than 10% of the nation’s tv viewers tuned in, 9th in household rankings. Trump’s d-list at best and his two bit reality show should be cancelled. Deal with it.

      • Alia Que says:

        Hollywood is D list. The American people are A list. This isn’t spin. The Deplorables are dealing with it. Go to your Safe Space with a Juice Box for company.

    • Chris says:

      I oughta start a fundraiser to collect, say $10 for each time I see “libtard”, “conservaturd”, “rethuglican”, etc. online on message boards and comments sections.

  40. Laura Pallas says:

    He is such a baby – and I cannot stomach that we have to put up with this for the next four years – This is serious and all he can talk about is the turn out at his inauguration and how many times his face was on time magazine…god help us all –

    • Alia Que says:

      Maybe you could hunt out that copy of Newsweek that pronounced Hillary Clinton as having won the election? You know the one which they had to recall and dump?

      I’m sure that will see you through the next four to eight years.

      If you need help, how about starting up your own “Pay to Play” “Charity”?

  41. Alex Meyer says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all.

  42. Jus Sayin says:

    Ratings would have been even lower if it was an HRC inauguration. #JusSayin

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