Obama Inauguration Probably Will Set TV Rating Record for Inaugurations

It is a pretty safe bet that the record for the largest world-wide TV audience for a presidential inauguration  will be made Tuesday when Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th United States President.   The first presidential inauguration to be telecast was when Harry Truman was sworn-in in on January 20, 1949. 

No doubt the audience for the swearing-in of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953 was much larger than the Truman inauguration.  In 1949 television stations were confined to the country’s largest metropolitan areas.  WSB-TV in Atlanta, which went on the air on September 29, 1948,  was one of those early stations that carried the Truman inauguration.  But 1953 was the year that television  truly went country-wide when the medium-sized markets got their licences,  which, no doubt, greatly increased the TV audience for the Eisenhower inaugural.

It will be interesting to see how the Obama ceremony will compare to the largest television audiences in history.  Wiki-answers reports that the largest world-wide TV audience ever was the 2.5 billion who watched Princess Diana’s funeral in 1996.  The second largest was the 500 million worldwide that watched the first moon landing in 1969.

The 1949 inauguration was probably seen by as many people in movie theaters as on television.  Here is one of those newsreel reports on YouTube.


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