Internet audience shatters records

Barack Obama's inauguration failed to attract the unprecedented television audience many predicted, as record numbers of people chose instead to follow the event online, marking the latest new media milestone for a president whose path to power was smoothed by his widely praised use of the internet.

Almost 37.8m Americans watched television broadcasts of the new president's swearing-in, according to figures released by Nielsen, the media ratings group.

While this stemmed the trend of declining ratings for presidential inaugurations, exceeding the 15.5m people who watched George W. Bush's second inauguration in 2005, it fell far short of the record audience for Ronald Reagan's first inauguration, which drew 41.8m viewers to the three largest news networks in 1981.

CNN's website on Tuesday exceeded its live-streaming record, set on the day of Mr Obama's election, by four times. received 136m page views and Live served more than 21.3m live video streams, against 5.3m on November 4.

Google said inauguration-related searches had increased more than 10 times compared with Mr Bush's second inauguration.

With many traditional media outlets and internet sites such as YouTube offering live streaming, Google said the internet audience was sufficiently captivated by Mr Obama to register a noticeable fall in overall search volumes during his speech.

Newspapers also saw enormous interest in commemorative special issues.

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