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CNN, MSNBC viewers flip for Biden; Fox audience slumps

Last Updated Jan 21, 2021 at 7:38 pm EST

NEW YORK — Nothing illustrates the political passions of a television network’s audience quite like ratings for a presidential inaugural.

The 6.53 million people who watched President Joe Biden take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address on MSNBC Wednesday was a whopping 338% bigger than its audience for Donald Trump’s swearing in four years ago, the Nielsen company said.

On the flip side, Fox News Channel’s audience of 2.74 million for Biden on Wednesday represented a nearly 77% drop from its viewership for Trump in 2017, Nielsen said.

A preliminary Nielsen estimate shows Biden’s inaugural viewership on the top six networks beat Trump by 4%. Nielsen said it doesn’t have a complete estimate for inaugural viewing because it is still counting people who watched on other networks or outside their homes.

CNN, with 10 million viewers, easily beat ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and Fox during Biden’s big moment, Nielsen said. That’s 196% more than watched Trump four years ago.

CNN, which has been on a hot streak in the ratings since Biden’s victory, also topped all the others for its coverage of the primetime inaugural celebration.

MSNBC, meanwhile, said it recorded the highest daytime ratings of the network’s nearly 25-year history on Wednesday.

ABC had 7.66 million viewers for the oath-taking (up 10% from 2017), NBC had 6.89 million (down 12%) and CBS had 6.07 million (down 13%), Nielsen said.

David Bauder, The Associated Press