04/25/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama Press Conference Ratings Down: 40.4 Million Watch, Fox News Tops On Cable

President Obama's press conference Tuesday night drew 40.4 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That's "down 18% from from his Feb. 9 press conference, and down 23% from his Feb. 24 address to Congress," according to The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd, suggesting that there is a bit of "Obama fatigue" among television viewers:

Most TV shows start strong in the ratings, then decline as their novelty wears off.

Apparently that trend also holds true for the president's primetime telecasts.

Among the cable news networks, Fox News easily won during the press conference (8-9PM) — it drew an average of 3.4 million total viewers compared to CNN's 2.3 million and MSNBC's 1.8 million.

The more interesting statistic comes in the primetime (8-11PM) ratings, where CNN lost to MSNBC in the Adults 25-54 demo and only narrowly beat MSNBC in total viewers (see below). Major news events like a Presidential press conference have, of late, provided CNN its strongest nights — but, as Portfolio's Jeff Bercovici documented last week, the network has been struggling this month in the primetime ratings.

The gap between press conference ratings and primetime ratings reflects viewers who tuned in for the press conference but tuned out for the post-speech analysis and coverage.

March monthly ratings, as well as ratings for the first quarter of 2009, are due out next week.

March 24, 2009 Primetime (8-11PM) Ratings

Fox News: 3.1 million total viewers, 906K A25-54
CNN: 1.6 million total viewers, 560K A25-54
MSNBC: 1.5 million total viewers, 565K A25-54