UPDATED, 8:17 AM: More numbers are coming in for Donald Trump’s debut last night before a Joint Session of Congress, and they are looking good for the 45th President over his predecessor’s last State Of the Union.
Going low on the hyperbole and heavy on the history, the President’s highly anticipated speech was a fairly polished performance on a very big stage that caught a lot of Americans’ attention – around 22.7 million actually. That’s up over 25% from what Barack Obama’s final SOTU drew among the Big 4 back on January 14, 2016.
As was the case in the metered-market numbers earlier this morning, NBC was the highest-rated network to show the its f0rmer Celebrity Apprentice host’s 9-10:09 PM ET remarks, drawing a 2.0/7 rating among adults 18-49 and 8.3 million viewers. A strong lead-in by the highest-rated show of the night, The Voice (2.6/10), was no hindrance. ABC was next with a 1.2/4 rating and an audience of 5.13 million. CBS followed with a 1.0/3 and 6.59 million tuning in, and Fox had a 0.8/3 rating and 2.72 million watching between 9 and 10:30 PM.
Overall, the speech had a combined demo of 5.0 or 19% better than Obama’s last SOTU last year.
NBC saw the biggest jump with Trump’s speech over last year’s SOTU in the 18-49 demo with a 33% surge. ABC was up 20%, Fox rose 14%, and CBS stayed the same as Obama last official address to Congress among the key demo.There still are more adjusted ratings to come in and the cable newers of CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC need to be factored in before a final number for last night’s speech can be asserted. (UPDATE: Read cable news’ ratings for the speech here.) Apples to almost a decade ago, POTUS 44’s first Joint Address of February 24, 2009, ended up with a total viewership of just under 52.4 million over 10 national reaching nets from NBC to Fox News Channel and Univision
With the cable news networks and a few others added in, Obama’s final SOTU had a total audience of 31.3 million watching over 13 networks – an all-time low.
In the meantime, there were a few other things on TV on Tuesday before the President’s speech like an NCIS (0.9/3) encore on CBS. Fox had originals of New Girl (0.9/3) and The Mick (0.9/3), which were down a tenth and even from last week, respectively.
After its latest season premiere on Monday, NBC had more of The Voice on Tuesday at 8 PM. The singing competition series from Apprentice EP Mark Burnett dropped a not-so-bad 16% from the debut of the night before. Compared to the 8-10 PM Tuesday premiere of a year ago, which did not share the night with a POTUS, Voice declined 13%. Comedy led into Trump’s remarks on ABC with out-of-their-regular-slots Fresh Off the Boat (1.2/4) and The Real O’Neals (1.1/4). Both up from their February 21 shows, by a tenth and two-tenths, respectively. The CW’s The Flash (1.1/4) had a good night with 10% demo rise over last week.
PREVIOUSLY, 7:38 AM: As Arnold Schwarzenegger can tell you, Donald Trump has never made any secret of his fascination with ratings. It was a bit too early in his term to call last night’s speech a State of the Union but the 45th President’s debut primetime Joint Address on Tuesday before members of the House of Representatives, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the Joint Chiefs and more looks like a winner with Americans watching at home.
The wide-ranging, primarily upbeat, sometimes emotional and frequently GOP applauded 9 – 10:09 PM ET speech was up from President Barack Obama’s last SOTU last year in the early numbers across almost all the Big 4 networks.
NBC was the highest rated network in metered market results to show the ex-Celebrity Apprentice host’s remarks with a 5.6/9 rating – that’s up 17% in the early numbers from Obama’s last SOTU on January 14, 2016. CBS followed with a 4.5/7 MM result for Trump’s speech in the 9 – 10 slot, basically steady with what Obama got on the House of Moonves last year. ABC’s 3.8/6 was up 3% over the 2016 SOTU and Fox jumped up 11% from Obama’s last SOTU of last year to a 2.1/3 MM result for Trump last night.
We’ll get a greater sense of the larger response when viewership and demo numbers come in later this morning. Right now, in an era of changing TV viewing habits, the best comparison for Trump’s speech on Tuesday again is the final SOTU of President Barack Obama from January 12 last year. In the early ratings, the 44th POTUS snagged 18.1 million viewers and a cume demo of 4.2 in early 2016 – an all-time low for the two-term Democrat.
With the cable news networks and a few others added in, Obama’s final SOTU had a total audience of 31.3 million watching over 13 networks. That was also an all-time Obama SOTU viewership low by less than 2% from his 2015 address.
Coming just over a month after he was sworn in, Obama’s Joint Address of February 24, 2009 had a total viewership of just under 52.4 million over 10 national reaching nets from NBC to Fox News Channel and Univision. George W. Bush’s February 27, 2001 first speech to Congress, also not a SOTU, was watched by 39.8 million in total. In a very different era when FNC wasn’t even on the air, Bill Clinton’s February 17, 1993 Joint Address hit a motherlode total audience of 66.9 million – a number that only W’s pre-Iraq war 2003 SOTU approached in the last two decades with its viewership of 62.1 million.
We’ll update with more numbers for Trump’s speech later on today, especially when the FNC, CNN, MSNBC and more numbers come in.