UPDATE, 1:50 PM: An average of 33.3 million viewers watched President Obama’s second State of the Union address of his second term in office, Nielsen reported this afternoon. The speech was carried live from 9 PM to 10:15 PM ET on 13 networks and tape-delayed on Univision. In detail, the actual number was 33,299,172 viewers across CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, Azteca, Fox Business, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, Al Jazeera America, Galavision and Mun2, Nielsen said. Last year’s SOTU address logged an average of 33,497,607 viewers.
For comparison sake, Obama’s first Address to the Joint Session of Congress (POTUS’ first such speech, months after taking office, is not called the State of the Union address) clocked nearly 52.4 million viewers, the largest number of viewers since President George W. Bush’s address following the 9/11 attacks. All of Obama’s SOTU addresses in his first term averaged bigger crowds than last night’s; his smallest audience in his first term was 37.8 million for his final address of that term.
To put cable news in perspective — about 9 million of last night’s viewers watched on Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC.
PREVIOUS, 11:39 AM: Fox News Channel clocked more viewers than CNN and MSNBC combined for the speech, averaging 4.718 million viewers – 1.198 million of them in the news demo. MSNBC logged 2.292 million, including 752,000 in the demo; CNN posted 2.081 million with 763,000 in the demo.
Fox News also was the only network to post bigger numbers than the 2013 SOTU – up 28% in viewers and 25% in the demo. CNN was down 43% in viewers and 47% in the demo compared to last year — when its SOTU coverage got sandwiched between reports on the Christopher Dorner manhunt in the California mountains. MSNBC was down 24% in viewers and 27% in the demo.