President Barack Obama's historical inauguration was not the most watched inauguration by U.S. television viewers in history as previously expected.

Obama's inaugural ceremony -- from the parade, swearing-in ceremony, balls and other events -- was the second most-watched presidential inauguration after Ronald Reagan's in 1981, which attracted 41.8 million TV viewers.

The event was watched by nearly 37.8 million Americans, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The 37.79 million-member Obama audience included homes that recorded the proceedings. It excluded those who streamed it online or watched the event outside their homes.

Given the buzz surrounding Obama's election as the first black president, figures were below expectations.

One-third of U.S. households in major cities watched the inauguration at home from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Nielsen said.

However, the event drew more of an audience compared to President George W. Bush in January 2005, resulting in about 1,000 stories in major media worldwide, Paul JJ Payack, president of Global Language Monitor said today.

Obama is the biggest story of the century so far, Payack said.

He said the Obama campaign and election story had generated 717,000 citations in print, television and radio around the world last year and 254 million mentions on the Internet.

Surprisingly, the number surpassed media interest generated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the global financial crisis in 2008, the Iraq war in 2003 and the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, Payack added.