Obama draws more viewers than ‘Idol’ debut

Almost 37 million Americans watched President Barack Obama's first White House news conference on television, according to preliminary ratings figures released on Tuesday.

The one-hour, prime-time news conference on Monday was shown on all four major broadcast networks.

Nielsen Media Research's preliminary figure of 36.9 million viewers does not include viewership on cable news channels like CNN, MSNBC and Fox news, which also carried the news conference live.

Obama's television audience was larger than the eighth season premiere of "American Idol" in January, which drew 30.1 million viewers. The TV talent show has been the most-watched  television show for the past five years.

Final figures for the Obama news conference, which focused on the economy and efforts to pass an $800 billion stimulus package, are expected later on Tuesday.