A Lot of People Watched the Inauguration, But Fewer Than Last Term

CNN rules cable, NBC beats other broadcasters

The second inauguration of Barack Obama pulled in 6.73 million viewers on cable news alone, with CNN leading the pack with 3.136 million viewers. Fox News drew 2.27 million viewers during the president's recital of the oath of office, and MSNBC pulled in 1.32 million.

Broadcast coverage was much more widely-viewed, with 5.08 million viewers checking out the inauguration on NBC, 4.57 million on ABC, and 3.67 million on CBS. Overall, right around 20 million Americans watched the president being sworn in—the second such ceremony in two days, given that the Chief Executive took his oath of office in a small, private ceremony on Sunday so that there wouldn't technically be a day between his first term and his second.

Ratings were considerably lower than President Obama's first inauguration in 2009. 

Obama took the opportunity of his second inaugural address—falling on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—to come out in strong support of gay rights, women's rights, and government assistance programs. 

"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths—that all of us are created equal—is the star that guides us still, just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall, just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone, to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth," Obama told nearly a million listeners who stood in the cold on Washington, D.C.'s Mall to hear the address.

The speech drove cable ratings on Monday evening, as well: CNN scored a rare primetime win with 3.57 million total viewers and 1.27 adults 25-54 in the demo, while Fox News Channel pulled in 1.67 million viewers and 254,000 25-54 year-olds. MSNBC had 1.37 million total viewers and 456,000 adults 25-54.