President Joe Biden's inauguration had more people watching than his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, as almost 40 million people watched the 46th U.S. president get sworn into office. Nielsen ratings showed that 39.9 million people across the major six TV networks watched Biden's inauguration, Variety reported Thursday, compared to Trump's 38.35 million viewers in 2017 — a 4% difference.
In addition to Biden's swearing-in alongside Vice President Kamala Harris, there were a number of notable performers at the inauguration, including Lady Gaga, who performed the national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez, who sang "This Land Is Your Land." Also drawing attention was 22-year-old Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate for the U.S., who recited her poem, "The Hill We Climb."
As noted by Variety, CNN's viewership numbers grew by nearly 200% from the 3.4 million people who watched Trump's inauguration, while Fox News' audience shrank by about 77% percent from 2017. The coronavirus pandemic also meant there would be more people watching from home, as both the inaugural parade and ball were replaced with TV specials in order to avoid crowds of people transmitting the virus.
One of the specials, titled Celebrating America, featured a number of top Hollywood names, including Tom Hanks, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen and Katy Perry. The pop star ended the night with a powerful rendition of her classic hit "Firework," as fireworks launched over the Washington Monument.
Biden's inaugural speech earlier in the day has also been praised as one of the greats. "This is America's day. This is democracy's day," he said after swearing to uphold the Constitution. "Today we celebrate the triumph not of a candidate, but of a cause. The cause of democracy. The people, the will of the people, has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded."
Noting that he was being inaugurated on the steps of the Capitol just two weeks after it was stormed by rioters attempted to disrupt the country's free and fair election process, Biden said the U.S. had been reminded that "democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed." Just hours after being sworn in, Biden signed more than a dozen executive orders and actions, reversing a number of Trump's initiatives and targeting a COVID-19 response strategy that would focus on vaccinations and local funding, as well as immigration, climate change, racial equality and other dire topics.