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President Joe Biden’s first official State of the Union drew a considerably bigger TV audience than his address to Congress last year.
Coverage of the address drew a total of 38.2 million viewers Tuesday night, with the vast majority — 33.83 million — watching via the big four broadcast networks and three main cable news channels. That’s a significant increase over last year’s speech (which technically wasn’t a State of the Union address; a president’s first SOTU comes a year after they take office) but on the lower end of viewership for the annual event in recent history.
Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress in April 2021 drew just under 27 million viewers across 16 TV networks, a figure surpassed Tuesday by just the seven major outlets. The 38.2 million is up by 42 percent over last year; the 33.83 million who watched on ABC, CBS, the Fox broadcast network, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC is a 44 percent increase over the 2021 address on those outlets (23.44 million).
Fox News drew the biggest audience with 7.21 million people tuning in for the address. ABC led the broadcast nets with 6.3 million viewers. CBS (4.86 million) edged CNN (4.83 million) for third. NBC had 4.71 million viewers for the speech, followed by MSNBC (4.06 million) and the Fox broadcast network (1.86 million). Univision (1.35 million viewers), Telemundo (1.16 million), Newsmax (462,000) and CNBC (284,000) brought the tally to 37.08 million. PBS, NBC LX, Black News Channel, CNNe and NewsNation accounted for the other 1.12 million.
ABC performed best in the key news demographic of adults 25-54 with a 1.54 rating, equivalent to about 1.86 million people in that age group. CNN (1.47 rating) narrowly beat Fox (1.4) for second. They were followed by NBC (1.26), CBS (0.89), MSNBC (0.56) and Fox broadcast (0.54).
Despite the sizable year to year gains, however, Biden’s first State of the Union drew a smaller audience than any of the first addresses by his recent predecessors. Bill Clinton’s first official State of the Union in 1994 averaged 45.8 million viewers; George W. Bush’s in 2002 drew 51.77 million; Barack Obama’s in 2010 had just over 48 million; and Donald Trump’s in 2018 averaged 45.55 million.
Biden’s address did bring in a bigger audience than several of his former boss Obama’s second-term States of the Union and Clinton’s final one in 2000 (31.48 million). It also bested Trump’s 2020 address (37.17 million) and Bush’s in 2008 (37.52 million).
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.
March 2, 3:20 p.m. Updated with final viewing figures.
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