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TV Ratings: Biden Inauguration Special ‘Celebrating America’ Draws in 10.56 Million Viewers

Mónica Marie Zorrilla
·4-min read

Last night after Joseph Robinette Biden, Sr. and Kamala Devi Harris were sworn in during the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies (and the rest of America was serenaded by Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez and treated to a stirring poetry recital by young rising star Amanda Gorman), CBS, NBC and ABC aired the presidential inauguration special “Celebrating America,” hosted by actor Tom Hanks. During that 8:30 to 10 p.m. window, the three networks attracted a combined 10.56 million viewers— and that Nielsen Live+Same Day fast affiliate number is only expected to grow in the coming days with the addition of the cable networks that carried the special.

Looking at the networks separately, the three “Celebrating America” rankings on the primetime overnight charts are as follows: NBC (0.8 in the key, adults ages 18-49 demographic and 3.85 million viewers), ABC (0.6, 3.65) and CBS (0.4, 3.06). Prior to 8:30 p.m., all three of those networks ran additional inauguration specials: “The Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Sr.” on ABC (0.8, 4.28), “The Inauguration of Joseph R. Biden, Sr.” on NBC (0.7, 3.87) and “One Nation: Indivisible” on CBS (0.5, 3.69).

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The Spanish language giants also partook in the inauguration telecast festivities. Univision dropped the special “Univision Presenta: Primera Noche en la Casa Blanca” from 8 to 10 p.m., with the first half of coverage drawing a 0.4 rating and 1.28 million viewers, and the second drawing a 0.3 rating and 950,000 viewers. At 10 p.m., Univision ran a new episode of Brazilian telenovela “A Dona do Pedaço (Dulce Ambición),” which drew a 0.3 in the key demo and 958,000 viewers. Likewise, Telemundo aired the special “Noticias Telemundo: Biden en la Casa Blanca” from 8 to 10 p.m., with the first half of coverage drawing a 0.3 rating and 917,000 viewers, and the second drawing a 0.3 rating and 808,000 viewers. The network premiered a new episode of Telemundo Global Studios-produced telenovela “Falsa Identidad” (0.3, 0.84) at 10 p.m.

Elsewhere that evening in non-politics related broadcast content, Fox debuted a new episode of “The Masked Dancer” at 8 p.m., which drew a 0.6 rating in the key demo and 2.78 million viewers. At that same hour, The CW aired the season five debut of the borderline R-Rated Archie’s Comics adaptation “Riverdale,” with numbers that drastically decreased compared to season four’s premiere: 0.2 rating, down 52.38%, and 0.66 million viewers, down 43.54 percent. The CW’s luck was no better over on the 9 p.m. timeslot with the second season premiere of the similarly dark and “sexy” teen mystery drama “Nancy Drew”: 0.1 rating, down 62.96%, 0.49 million viewers, down 58.21 percent. Also on at 9 p.m. was a new episode of Fox’s latest iteration of “Name That Tune,” which attracted 2.67 million viewers and got a 0.6 rating in the key demo.

After their respective “Celebrating America” broadcasts, ABC, NBC and CBS ran reruns at 10 p.m: respectively “The Conners” (0.6, 3.10), “Chicago P.D.” (0.4, 2.69) and “Magnum P.I.” (0.2, 1.93). At 10:30 p.m., ABC put out a new episode of “Call Your Mother,” which so far has scored a 0.4 rating and 2.37 million viewers, almost a quarter down in both measurements compared to the show’s premiere last week.

Overall on Wednesday night, NBC, ABC and Fox were all tied for first place in the key, adults ages 18-49 demographic, securing a rating of 0.6 each. NBC took the lead for viewers, drawing about 3.5 million, while ABC came close behind with 3.4 million and Fox rounded out third with 2.7 million. Second in the ratings demo was CBS, garnering a 0.4 rating and roughly 2.8 million viewers. The two Spanish language networks were tied for third in the key demo (0.3), but Univision scored a little over a million viewers while Telemundo ended the night with an average of 855,000 viewers. The CW came in last with a 0.1 rating and 573,000 viewers.

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