Tags: obama | ratings | plunge

Obama's TV Press Conference Ratings Take a Dive

By Dave Eberhart   |   Friday, 01 May 2009 02:30 PM

The telecast to mark President Barack Obama’s 100th day in office pulled in the smallest number of prime-time viewers since his inauguration, according to Nielsen Ratings reported by THR.com.

Audience fascination with Obama’s news conferences is apparently in a downward spiral, with 28.8 million viewers tuning in Wednesday night’s much touted news conference.

That figure represents a 29 percent drop from the president’s previous news conference on March 24, and a 42 percent fall from his first, on Feb. 9, according to the Nielson report.

The numbers from the president’s last three prime-time news events tell the story, with 49.5 million viewers on Feb. 9, 40.4 million viewers on March 24, and 28.8 million viewers on April 29.

Ten networks carried the telecast.

But even with the diminished 28.8 viewers, President Obama managed to outdraw TV’s biggest show, “American Idol,” which attracted a mere 21.8 million sets of eyes and ears, according to Eonline.

Obama’s big show came on at 8 p.m., while “Idol” aired at 9 p.m. According to Eonline, Obama’s most direct challenger Wednesday night was Fox’s “Lie to Me.” That matchup was a tie.

According to Nielsen News' blog, President Bill Clinton's prime time news conference on the economy in 1993 was carried by 4 networks and garnered 64,300,000 viewers on average.

On Oct. 11, 2001, exactly a month after the attacks of Sept. 11, President Bush held a primetime news conference that seven networks carried and drew 64.8 million viewers.

Of course, in 1993 the average U.S. TV home had about 40 channels available, while that number has reached 118 today.

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