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.”