Twitter’s live stream of “PBS NewsHour” coverage of the 2017 presidential inauguration day reached 6.824 million unique viewers. That edged out the 6.8 million uniques who tuned in to BuzzFeed’s Nov. 8 Election Night live stream on Twitter. The broadcast peaked at 377,000 concurrent viewers at approximately 12:15 p.m. ET as Trump took the oath of office.
It’s important to understand, however, that the way online viewership is typically reported doesn’t correspond to TV audience.
The number of Twitter’s unique viewers represents everyone who watched even a few seconds of the PBS live feed, whereas TV ratings reflect an average per-minute audience over a program’s duration. (Twitter did not disclose average-minute audience of the PBS inauguration stream — a metric it has provided selectively in the past — nor did it provide total live-streamed minutes watched.) White House press secretary Sean Spicer, in a briefing Monday, incorrectly equated Nielsen TV numbers with CNN’s reported number of digital views in claiming Trump’s inauguration was the most-viewed ever.
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Other internet outlets streamed Trump’s inauguration, including YouTube (which carried feeds from partners including NBC News, CBS News, Telemundo, and C-SPAN), Facebook (whose partners included ABC News, BuzzFeed News, the New York Times and Univision), CNN Digital, and Fox News Channel.
Twitter has embarked on a concerted effort within the last year to pump live video onto the platform — spanning news, sports and entertainment — in a bid to boost user engagement. That included 10 NFL Thursday night games last fall, and on Monday Twitter announced a new deal with Dick Clark Productions to stream red-carpet coverage from upcoming awards shows.
The social site exclusively live-streamed “PBS NewsHour” coverage of the inauguration and related events from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET on Jan. 20. The program was anchored by “NewsHour” managing editor Judy Woodruff, with live reports from correspondents in D.C. and guests joining Woodruff in the studio.
On Twitter, Trump’s inauguration was a top-trending global event with 12 million tweets posted Jan. 20 related to the inauguration, peaking at 58,000 tweets sent per minute at 12:02 p.m. ET.
Election Day 2016 was the most-tweeted day of the entire presidential campaign, with more than 75 million global election-related tweets sent from before polls opened to just after President-elect Trump’s 3 a.m. ET victory speech on Nov. 9, 2016.
During the 2016 election season, Twitter partnered with a variety of news orgs to live-stream major live events, including both GOP and Democratic conventions and all four presidential debates.