UPDATED: President Donald Trump sat down on Sunday afternoon with Fox News for the president’s now-customary pre-Super Bowl interview. The segment with “O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly, which aired during Fox Broadcasting’s pre-game coverage around 4 p.m., drew an average audience of 12.2 million viewers.
Here at last we have a true apples-to-apples comparison for a television event with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama — or at least as close to one as we’re going to get for a while — and it’s not very flattering for the current Commander-in-Chief.
President Obama’s first pre-Super Bowl interview, with NBC’s Matt Lauer in 2009, brought in an average audience of 21.9 million viewers in Nielsen’s final accounting. The half-hour of 2011’s Super Bowl pre-game coverage — which included O’Reilly’s highly anticipated interview with Obama — attracted an average audience of 17.3 million. In 2016, Obama’s interview drew 14.9 million; in 2015, 16.4 million; in 2014, 18 million.
The Trump-O’Reilly interview drew a 7.8 household rating in Nielsen’s metered market overnight ratings. President Obama’s last three sit-downs before the Super Bowl drew overnight household ratings of 9.2, 10.2, and 11.5; his first, a 9.6.
There are a few factors that can perhaps affect the ratings of POTUS’ pre-Super Bowl interview: Current political climate, game anticipation, and how close to kickoff the interview aired (Obama’s first interview was shown closer to 5 p.m.; the 2011 one was around 4:30 p.m.). The last one could account for the gap between POTUS 44 and 45’s first interviews — the closer to kickoff, the more people are already tuned in to the network. However, a difference of 9.7 million viewers is significant.