Today is the big day. The day that the most influential and inspiring figure of our generation takes the oath to be the 44th president of the United States of America. A truly historical moment -- not only for President Obama's race, but also for the importance of his decision-making during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression. While a record 69 million registered voters came out on Election Day and "Baracked the Vote" for Sen. Obama, how many people will watch? More than any other TV program in our lifetime.
Unlike most news that breaks with no advance notice, Inauguration Day has had more lead-ins, promos, custom graphics, web alerts, analysis and star power than any other event in U.S. history. And if actual viewership of the event even touches the amount of anticipation, then the number will far exceed last year's 2008 Super Bowl record of 94.5 million people. With an estimated 1 million to 2 million people in attendance, hundreds of thousands of party celebrations at venues, churches and schools across America, everyone is getting involved in Obama-mania (even criminals!).
Because the inauguration will be broadcast simultaneously on all of the broadcast networks, as well as on the cable news networks, in addition to online streaming, I am not sure if Nielsen will ever be able to estimate the total viewership tally, so maybe it will ever really be known. But I can tell you this: It will dwarf this year's Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Take in the international audience and I wouldn't even know where to begin to tally up the viewership for today's events.
For as long as I can remember, the highest-rated programs of all-time have always seemed to be sports -- the World Cup, the Olympic Games and the Super Bowl (and the ever lingering "MASH" finale). Well, finally people have smartened up. Americans have finally realized the importance of public policy, legislation and the value of watching the changing of the guard for the most powerful and influential post that any American can hold. This, to me, shows the changing of the times.
At 12:45 today, once President Obama steps down from that stage and completes the Inauguration process, everyone will want to know: What did Obama say? And I am sure dinner tables and chat rooms will be buzzing for weeks. Sorry, Steelers, sorry, Arizona -- this year you may have the most expensive airtime in Super Bowl history, but you've been beat -- even before you take the field.