The swearing-in of the 45th president was seen by 30.6 million viewers across 12 networks.
The only inauguration over the last three decades that tops Trump’s number in the linear ratings? Barack Obama’s first inauguration back in 2009, which had a record-setting 37.8 million viewers.
Ronald Reagan in 1981 was seen by 41.8 million viewers, so Ronaldus Magnus is still magnus.
Actually, Trump could have been seen by more viewers than either Obama or Reagan. Nielsen ratings do not account for online viewing, which has grown sharply in recent years and is far more commonplace than even four years ago. CNN.com, for example, clocked 16.9 million live streams, tying with its Election Day coverage for the site’s top event (live stream tallies are typically not apples-to-apples with Nielsen’s strict methodology of counting average viewers, but are still additive). Plus, portals like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter offered live streams as well.
I know as I ran my errands that day, all the stores had it on, and people were following along with interest.