7 of the Most-Watched TV News Events of 2009

By kevin 

Here are seven of 2009’s most viewed moments in TV news:

President Barack Obama’s Inauguration

On January 20th, President Barack Obama was sworn in to office as the 44th President of the United States. The event was accompanied by massive coverage from the cable and broadcast networks. Nielsen reported that 37,793,008 total viewers watched the ceremony.


ABC and NBC each drew around 10 million viewers and CNN drew 7 million.
Hudson River Crash

In January, viewers tuned in for coverage of a plane crash in the Hudson river. Fox News had the most viewers of the cable networks, which together averaged nearly 5 million viewers as the story broke. That night, over 27 million viewers watched the evening news broadcasts.
Obama’s First Address to Congress

Nielsen reported that a huge 52,373,000 viewers watched President Obama’s first address to a joint session of congress back in February.

33.6 million watched on the broadcast networks (10.5M on CBS). Fox and CNN split the top spot on cable.
The Death of Michael Jackson

The cable networks combined for nearly 8.5 million total viewers during primetime the night news broke that Michael Jackson had died.21.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the broadcast networks’ Jackson (and Farrah Fawcett) specials.

Nielsen reported that 31.1 million later watched Jackson’s memorial service across 17 networks. 8.9 million watched on the cable nets.
Sen. Edward Kennedy’s Funeral

Over 5 million viewers watched Senator Edward Kennedy‘s funeral services on the cable networks in late August, with many more watching on the broadcast networks.

In the preceding days, news of his passing and the subsequent specials and memorials consumed the networks.
Two Words: Balloon Boy

It was a rollercoaster of emotions watching that balloon float through the air with the belief that a young boy was trapped inside. That sure took a turn. But before we knew it was a hoax, nearly 5 million viewers watched on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC.
Shooting at Fort Hood

On November 5th, reports spread of a shooting at Fort Hood, a story that quickly dominated news coverage. The cable networks went wall-to-wall and the broadcast networks broke into regular programming.

Between 3-7pmET, CNN, FNC, and MSNBC together averaged 4.5 million viewers. Fox lead the ratings with their coverage and Bill O’Reilly averaged 5 million viewers that evening.

A few days later, a memorial service was held. Over 3 million tuned in on the cable nets, and more watched the president’s remarks on the broadcast networks.