Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration, featuring the oath of office and speech, posted 4% higher Nielsen-measured preliminary viewers among the top six viewing networks -- with 39.87 million viewers -- than Trump’s oath of office and speech in 2017, which came in at 38.35 million.
CNN was tops among six leading networks this year with 10 million viewers, followed by ABC at 7.7 million, NBC with 6.9 million, MSNBC at 6.5 million, CBS with 6.1 million and Fox News Channel at 2.7 million.
For the longer, five-hour inauguration programming period, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Biden’s viewer numbers were 9% higher than Trump's in 2017 -- at 29.445 million viewers versus 27.015 million viewers.
Four years ago, Fox News Channel was the most-viewed network -- at 11.8 million for the half-hour oath of office and speech and 8.8 million for the longer, five-hour time period.
Viewing for both Biden and Trump was lower than for Barack Obama’s first inaugural in 2009, which came in at 51.1 million viewers for the oath of office and address and 34.5 million viewers for the 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. time period. NBC and ABC were the top networks that day.
For Obama’s presidential oath and address, NBC posted 13.3 million viewers and ABC had 12.4 million. The same two networks led for the 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. time period -- with 8.8 million for NBC and 8.4 million for ABC.