With 11.5 million viewers, FNC was the clear victor among the cable contenders last night when it came to POTUS’ first State of the Union. Unlike the usual pattern that most Presidents have seen on most outlets for their first official SOTU, that’s actually up a tiny bit from the set of eyeballs that the Sean Hannity starring net had watching Trump’s first address to Congress back on February 28 last year. To add to FNC’s mantel, the cable newser also easily beat NBC and the other Big 4 broadcasters in viewers. The Comcast-owned net had 7.1 million viewers ahead by a hair of CBS’ 7 million. ABC and Fox were in the rear-view with 5.4 million and 3.6 million each.
Back on cable and following FNC by a long stretch, CNN was down from Trump’s big Capitol Hill speech of 2017 with 3.1 million viewers in the 9 – 10:30 PM ET slot. Even with the Congressional speech of last year, MSNBC had 2.7 million tuning in for what is one of official Washington DC’s biggest nights.
In what is currently the highest rated SOTU ever for cable news, last night’s speech saw FNC snag 3.3 million viewers in the adults 25-54 demo, that’s greater than the Jeff Zucker-run CNN’s entire viewership. As for CNN, they had 1.3 million in the news demo and MSNBC had 659,000 viewers.
There are numbers from more outlets to come in, but right now Trump’s speech had 40.4 million viewers on the Big 4 and the cable news trio. That’s a small decline from the 42.8 million who watched his 2017 speech on the same seven outlets last February.
Overall, as we await the final total numbers for last night’s speech, that non-SOTU of 2017 scored a total audience of 47.7 million across live coverage on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Univision, PBS, CNN, Fox Business Network, FNC, MSNBC and NBC Universo. Shown on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, BET, FNC, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, Barack Obama’s first State of the Union on January 27, 2010 had a total viewership of just over 48 million.
To give some further context, that was a decline of 10% from the set of eyeballs who gleamed the 44th POTUS’ February 24, 2009 speech to the members of Congress, the Senate, the Supreme Court, most of the cabinet and others. Those remarks were also not a formal State of the Union but they were Obama’s first Congressional address since taking office just over a month beforehand as the American economy teetered on a terrible brink.
As it is right now, fast affiliate results for the Big 4 broadcast networks as showing Trump’s first SOTU had 19.8 million watching last night between 9 and 11 PM ET. That’s down 13% from what Trump’s 2017 speech vacuumed up for the ratings conscious POTUS.
Speaking of down, once FNC kingpin Bill O’Reilly had his own take on the SOTU last night as an analyst on Newsmax TV. Far from the dizzy cable heights he regularly scaled over the decades at FNC before being exited last spring over sexual harassment allegations and settlements, O’Reilly’s spin on the Chris Ruddy-founded outlet was seen by a high of 17,000 households late night.