By Rachel Yang
January 21, 2021 at 11:05 PM EST
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Credit: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU

For all of former President Donald Trump's bragging about crowd sizes, it seems his successor has the upper hand on televised audiences.

President Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday drew more viewers than Trump's 2017 ceremony, per a Nielsen report on preliminary numbers.

Nearly 40 million people watched the swearing-in ceremony via the country's six major TV-news outlets, compared to the 38.35 million viewers who tuned in for the 2017 inauguration, The New York Times reported, citing Nielsen. The 2021 figure represents an approximately 4 percent increase.

CNN was at the top of the ratings, capturing an average of 9.9 million viewers for the half-hour, which is reportedly the biggest audience for an inauguration broadcast in its history. ABC News was in second with an average of 7.66 million, followed by NBC News with 6.89 million, MSNBC with nearly 6.53 million, CBS News with nearly 6.07 million, and Fox News Channel with 2.74 million. The report is preliminary and may change after Nielsen examines a wider range of viewing sources, the Times also noted.

Additionally, CNN and Fox News reversed their fortunes from four years ago, when the former only garnered 3.375 million for the 2017 inauguration — which jumped 196 percent jump for yesterday's broadcast. Meanwhile, Fox News' audience for the event took a 77 percent tumble from 11.76 million in 2017, which was an inauguration record for the channel.

Broader coverage also showed similar trends, with approximately 29.45 million tuning in to the six networks between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET yesterday, accounting for a nearly 9 percent increase from 27.08 million in 2017.

EW has reached out to Nielsen for further comment.

On Wednesday, Biden's socially-distanced inauguration featured performances from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks, as well as a highly praised recitation from Amanda Gorman, the country's youngest inaugural poet. Later, Tom Hanks hosted the Celebrating America inaugural special, which had appearances from Foo FightersJohn LegendEva LongoriaBruce SpringsteenLin-Manuel MirandaKerry Washington, and more.

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