February 10, 2009 / 7:48 PM / 11 years ago

More than 49 million watch Obama news conference

President Barack Obama gestures during his first news conference as president in the East Room of the White House in Washington, February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - More than 49 million Americans watched President Barack Obama’s first White House news conference on broadcast and cable television, according to ratings figures released on Tuesday.

The one-hour, prime-time news conference on Monday was shown live on all four major U.S. broadcasters and on cable news channels, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News Channel and the Spanish-speaking Univision.

Nielsen Media Research said the news conference, which focused on the economy and efforts to pass the administration’s $800 billion-plus stimulus package, drew a TV audience of 49.5 million people.

That figure was much lower than the 64.3 million Americans who watched President Bill Clinton’s 1993 post-inauguration news conference on the economy, Nielsen said.

The audience size also was lower than some of the election debates, including the record 70 million viewers who tuned their TV sets to the vice-presidential contest between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Sarah Palin.

But the news conference surpassed Obama’s November 17 appearance on TV news program “60 Minutes,” which drew 24.5 million viewers just after he was elected, as well as the roughly 37.8 million Americans who watched a full day of TV coverage of Obama’s inauguration.

Moreover, the figures do not include those who watched Monday’s news conference over the Internet, which has been a key venue for Obama supporters to follow him.

Professional football’s Super Bowl is the most watched U.S. telecast of the year. Some 95.4 million viewers watched the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals on Feb 1.

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Eric Walsh

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