NOT QUITE THE TOP: With the millions of people converging on Washington for the event, the media predicted Barack Obama’s inauguration would reign supreme in TV ratings, compared to inaugurations past. But it appears his swearing-in will actually come in second to Ronald Reagan’s first term, in 1981, which registered a 37.4 household rating. Nielsen is predicting Obama’s inaugural events were viewed by 29.2 percent of households in the top 56 local television markets, where Raleigh-Durham came in first (perhaps because the region received four inches of snow) while the Seattle-Tacoma market came in last.
Many also looked to newspaper Web sites and, predictably, Obama’s hometown paper, The Chicago Tribune, didn’t fail to lure readers. Chicagotribune.com had its fifth-biggest day in the site’s history, with seven million page views. Over at The New York Times, a spokeswoman said there was an increase in traffic but nothing close to the traffic spikes experienced on Nov. 4 or 5 (although its uncertain whether Wednesday saw a spike in traffic because many of that day’s issues weren’t delivered as a result of production snafus). The site did, however, see a record for live streaming on the home page. And washingtonpost.com also set a record for its live video coverage on Tuesday, with 334,180 live video views, a 500 percent increase from Election Day. Overall, the site also had 12.8 million page views.
This story first appeared in the January 22, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Meanwhile, Google, which doesn’t release specific figures on searches, does track the fastest-moving search terms during a particular hour. Of the top 100 fastest-rising search terms around 11:30 a.m. EST on Tuesday, just when the inauguration was kicking off, nearly all the entries were related to the event’s coverage (save for “snow cream recipe,” “free makeup” — because of a court settlement involving major cosmetics companies — and, puzzlingly, “Gore ice sculpture.”) And one item of note: Americans turned away from the computer and tuned into President Obama in time to watch his inauguration speech. According to Google data published in a chart on its Web site, the overall query volume of Google searches dropped dramatically in the U.S. from the time Obama took the oath of office until the end of his speech.
— Amy Wicks and Stephanie D. Smith
VOGUE’S OBAMA TREATMENT: Speaking of the new administration, it appears Vogue has finally landed First Lady Michelle Obama for a cover — and it could be out in the next few weeks. Thank Obama’s hairdresser for confirming the news: Frédéric Fekkai stylist Johnny Wright this week inked a deal with television production company 44 Blue, which produces reality shows such as Style Network’s “Split Ends.” The news reports on the deal said Wright “has styled the First Lady’s coif for the Democratic National Convention, her upcoming appearance on the cover of Vogue magazine and other occasions.” Really? An e-mail to Wright’s publicist went unreturned. A Vogue spokesman stayed on script about whether Michelle Obama will make a cover appearance, saying simply, “We’re very interested in working with the First Lady.”
Nevertheless, all signs point to go for Mrs. Obama’s cover turn. Photographer Annie Leibovitz, who shoots for many Condé Nast titles, including Vogue and Vanity Fair, was spotted in Washington last week leaving the Hay-Adams Hotel, where the Obamas were staying before their eventual move to the White House. And since the March Vogue’s spring fashion issue, which hits newsstands in mid-February, is one of the thickest of the year, most observers suspect that would be the most likely one to feature the new First Lady (and family). Though it isn’t known which designer Michelle Obama will adorn for the shoot, insiders suspect she may choose some looks off the rack. Being that she’s already expressed her affection for J. Crew — which she wore during the inaugural festivities — and Target, don’t be surprised if she opts for one of those.
NOT KEEN ON TEENS: Following the closure of Cosmogirl in October, Hearst Magazines has now decided to shutter Teen magazine and its Web site, teenmag.com. A spokeswoman said the winter 2008 issues will be the last, adding the title did not take subscriptions and was a newsstand-only publication (with 200,000 distributed copies each quarter) that was acquired by Hearst along with Seventeen magazine, in 2003. “We will continue to publish the annual Teen Prom issue but will focus our teen publishing efforts on the Seventeen brand,” said the spokeswoman, adding editor in chief Jane Fort will stay on to oversee the Prom issue. The magazine had a small staff and only a few employees will be affected by the closure. The spokeswoman noted that teenmag.com will be absorbed into the Hearst Teen Network of sites over the next month.
NOT A GOOD VINTAGE: American Express Publishing said last week that it would lay off 33 more people as part of an overall restructuring and one of those affected is Lettie Teague, executive wine editor at Food & Wine, who has been with the magazine for 12 years. A spokeswoman said Teague will continue to write her award-winning column, “Wine Matters,” as a contributing wine editor.