Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration, on January 20, 1981, a Tuesday, attracted a Nielsen rating of 37.4, still the record Nielsen rating for a presidential inauguration.
This week’s inauguration, also on a Tuesday, attracted a Nielsen rating of 25.5.
Tuesday’s Nielsen rating not only was starkly lower than the Nielsen rating for Reagan’s first inauguration, it was also dramatically lower than the Nielsen ratings for either of Richard Nixon’s inaugurations.
Tuesday’s Nielsen rating of 25.5 was precisely in line with the figure for Clinton’s first inauguration, when Nielsen recorded a rating of 24.5.
The raw numbers are more telling still.
Despite the fact that our nation’s population has more than doubled over the last 28 years, Reagan’s 1981 inauguration, in absolute numbers, attracted more viewers than Tuesday’s inauguration.
This is extraordinary.
Ronald Reagan’s 1981 inauguration attracted more than 41,800,000 viewers. Tuesday’s inauguration—in a nation with more than twice the population—attracted just under 37,800,000 viewers, four million fewer viewers than twenty-eight years ago.
There is a lesson here.
Despite the news media’s abiding love for this new comedy series, Nielsen surveys suggest that the public does not share the news media’s fascination with the new program and that the reborn “The Jeffersons” will not have a long or successful run.
Of course, the series wasn't any good the first time around, either. . .