Everyone knows that the death of Osama Bin Laden is a gigantic story, but evidence of how big it really is comes from the fact that 56.5 million Americans watched Obama’s address on the death of Bin Laden despite the fact that it aired late on a Sunday night.
Complete data is not available yet, but Variety reported, “Despite airing after prime time Sunday in about 80 percent of the country, President Obama’s 9-minute address to the country announcing the capture and death of Osama bin Laden drew about 56.5 million viewers, Nielsen said Tuesday.”
Both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton attracted more that 60 million viewers for prime time news conferences, and Bush’s speech on the economic crisis attracted 52 million viewers in 2008, but it is unprecedented of a president to attract 56.5 million viewers at 11:30 PM (ET) for an address.
CNN proved again why they are the go to network for breaking news. While Fox News had Gerald Rivera at the anchor desk, and MSNBC had their weekend anchors, at least until they cut to the Brian Williams led NBC News coverage, CNN had Don Lemon who was soon joined by Wolf Blitzer and John King. Americans turn on CNN when news breaks and ten million of them did so for Obama’s address on the death of Bin Laden.
The President’s remarks on Sunday night were the most watched speech of his presidency. Obama’s inauguration, the most watched since Ronald Reagan, drew 37.8 million viewers. His speech on Sunday night drew almost 20 million more. What was even more impressive is that 80% of the nation watched the impromptu speech in non-prime time. For most of the country it was closer to bed time than prime time, yet America stayed up to watch history being made.
This has been a big few days for Obama. C-SPAN has reported that their YouTube video of Obama’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is now their most popular clip ever. Almost 6.2 million people have viewed Obama’s monologue since it was posted late Saturday night. C-SPAN previous top clip was Obama’s inaugural address which has been viewed by 4.7 million people in two and a half years.
The ratings and media attention will continue as President Obama visits Ground Zero tomorrow, and will sit down with CBS’ 60 Minutes for an interview that will air on Sunday night. To say that Sunday night’s speech is the defining moment of the Obama presidency is an understatement.
Obama is on a roll, and he is one set of good economic data away from being unstoppable in 2012.