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NOT QUITE THE TOP: With the millions of people converging on Washington for the event, the media predicted Barack Obama’s inauguration would reign supreme in TV ratings, compared to inaugurations past. But it appears his swearing-in will actually come in second to Ronald Reagan’s first term, in 1981, which registered a 37.4 household rating. Nielsen is predicting Obama’s inaugural events were viewed by 29.2 percent of households in the top 56 local television markets, where Raleigh-Durham came in first (perhaps because the region received four inches of snow) while the Seattle-Tacoma market came in last.
Many also looked to newspaper Web sites and, predictably, Obama’s hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, didn’t fail to lure readers. Chicagotribune.com had its fifth-biggest day in the site’s history, with seven million page views. Over at The New York Times, a spokeswoman said there was an increase in traffic but nothing close to the traffic spikes experienced on Nov. 4 or 5 (although its uncertain whether Wednesday saw a spike in traffic because many of that day’s issues weren’t delivered as a result of production snafus). The site did, however, see a record for live streaming on the home page. And washingtonpost.com also set a record for its live video coverage on Tuesday, with 334,180 live video views, a 500 percent increase from Election Day. Overall, the site also had 12.8 million page views.
Meanwhile, Google, which doesn’t release specific figures on searches, does track the fastest-moving search terms during a particular hour. Of the top 100 fastest-rising search terms around 11:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, just when the inauguration was kicking off, nearly all the entries were related to the event’s coverage (save for “snow cream recipe,” “free makeup” — because of a court settlement involving major cosmetics companies — and, puzzlingly, “Gore ice sculpture.”) And one item of note: Americans turned away from the computer and tuned into President Obama in time to watch his inauguration speech. According to Google data published in a chart on its Web site, the overall query volume of Google searches dropped dramatically in the U.S. from the time Obama took the oath of office until the end of his speech.
— Amy Wicks and Stephanie D. Smith