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President Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress drew a smaller crowd than those of his recent predecessors.
Ratings for the big four broadcast networks and the three largest cable news channels — CNN, Fox News and MSNBC — show an audience of about 23.44 million viewers. Coverage on nine additional outlets (CNBC, CNNe, Fox Business, Newsmax, NewsNation, Newsy, PBS, Telemundo and Univision) raised the final total to 26.94 million, according to Nielsen figures — considerably less than any of the past four presidents’ speeches at the beginning of their first terms.
Since 1993, the smallest audience for a president’s first address to Congress — technically not a State of the Union speech, which comes after the first full year in office — was 39.79 million for George W. Bush in 2001. Bill Clinton drew the highest viewership in 1993 (66.9 million); Barack Obama (52.37 million in 2009) and Donald Trump (47.74 million in 2017) fell in between.
Last year’s State of the Union in early February, which turned out to be Trump’s last, had an audience of 37.17 million people across 12 outlets.
ABC led Wednesday’s coverage with 4.19 million viewers, just ahead of the 4.12 million on MSNBC. NBC came in third with 3.66 million viewers, followed by CBS (3.44 million), CNN (3.35 million), Fox News (3 million) and the Fox broadcast network (1.69 million).
The Republican response from Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina drew 16.39 million viewers across ABC, CBS, NBC and the three cable news outlets (Fox broadcast numbers weren’t available), with Fox News (3.33 million) leading the way.
Bookmark THR.com/Ratings for more ratings news and numbers.
April 29, 3 p.m. Updated with final, all-network audience figures.
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