UPDATE, 2:46 PM: The Dow Jones took a tumble today, but President Barack Obama only hit a small pothole last night in his State of the Union address. With a total audience of 31.3 million watching over 13 networks, the President’s last official report on the nation before a joint session of Congress hit an all-time viewership low – by just a little bit.
It was the least-viewed State of the Union or presidential address to a joint session since Bill Clinton’s first joint session address in February 1993.
Last night’s 9-10:15 PM coverage of the speech dipped 1.26% from the 31.7 million who tuned in for Obama’s 2015 State of the Union, according to Nielsen. 2015 was the previous low in what has been an incremental downward trend for Obama. The President’s numbers have been declining since 2009, when he pulled in a massive audience of 52.4 million just weeks after taking office for what was termed an “Address To the Joint Sessions of Congress.” Obama’s first formal SOTU, on January 27, 2010, drew more than 48 million viewers.
Like last year, last night’s speech was shown on ABC, the soon-to-beshuttered Al Jazeera America, Azteca, CBS, CNN, Fox, Fox Business Network, Fox News Channel, Galavision, MSNBC, NBC, NBC Universo and with a tape delay on Univision.
CBS was again tops among both broadcasters and cable with 6.88 million tuning in, a 9% slip from 2015. NBC was a close second with 6.62 million, ABC had 5.02 million, and Fox had 2.36 million. The last two were down from 2015, but the first SOTU anchored by Lester Holt saw a 6% bop up over last year for NBC. As noted earlier, Fox News was in the top spot among cable newers again, but with CNN very close behind. The last time CNN won the viewership battle was in that 2009 joint sessiont. In terms of the news demo of adults 25-54, CNN was up double digits Tuesday to win that category as it did last year.
POTUS-to-POTUS, Obama’s last SOTU last night was down from the 37.5 million that George W. Bush’s last SOTU drew over nine networks on January 28, 2008. However, Obama was steady with the 31.5 million viewers Clinton attracted for his last SOTU on January 27, 2000 across ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
Social media activity around the SOTU jumped at at 10:10 PM ET, says Nielsen, when 30,600 tweets were posted in the minute after Obama’s final words. Overall, there was a domestic audience of 9.8 million on Twitter who saw one or more of the 2.6 million tweets sent during the speech.
Nielsen’s viewership numbers from last night do not include those who watched online via the likes Amazon, YouTube, Twitter, CBSN or the White House website.
PREVIOUS, 10:26 AM: Last night was President Barack Obama’s last State of the Union but in the cable news universe it was a case of déjà vu with Fox News Channel taking the top spot again in viewers and CNN winning the demo.
Pretty much in line with last year, FNC’s 9 – 10:15 PM coverage had 3.46 million viewers watching POTUS address Congress, according to Nielsen. That topped the 3.4 million that CNN drew and MSNBC’s 2.5 million. In fact, while they stayed in second place, CNN had a good night all things considered in a competitive market and at the twilight of a Presidency. Viewershipwise, CNN was up 32% over what it pulled in for the January 20, 2015 speech.
With a 23% increase over last year, CNN was No. 1 in the news demo of adults 25-54 with 1.26 million watching. FNC saw a 10% downturn from 2015 in its demo haul to 750,219 among the news demo. The more Obama inclined MSNBC had a 24% jump in its demo results with 586,323 watching the Comcast-owned cable newer.
Continuing a downward trend, Obama’s 2015 SOTU ended up pulling in a viewership low for the 44th President with 31.7 million watching across 13 networks. George W. Bush’s second to last SOTU had nearly 33 million viewers across nine nets while his last address to Congress of January 28, 2008 got an audience of 37.5 million.
In post-SOTU 11 PM – midnight pundit heavy analysis, FNC was in the lead with the Megyn Kelly anchored coverage getting 2.4 million viewers to runner up MSNBC’s 1.32 million and CNN’s 1.31 million. CNN had a slight after speech lead among the 25-54s with 533,656 watching compared to FNC’s 511, 437. MSNBC had 323,890 in the news demo tuning in for the after speech talking heads
We’ll update with more SOTU numbers from the Big 4 and Nielsen as we get them