Breaking the tradition of declining viewership that usually afflicts Presidents this deep into their terms, the embattled ex-Celebrity Apprentice host snared an audience of 46.8 million.
Airing on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNN, CNNe, FOX Business, FOX News Channel and MSNBC in the 9 – 10 PM ET slot, the third longest SOTU in history topped Trump’s first official address to Congress in 2018 by over 1 million viewers.
In a number that will also be important to the 45th POTUS, the address before the now Democrats’ dominated House of Representatives, the Senate and invited guests also beat Barack Obama’s second SOTU of January 25, 2011 by over 9%. That speech by the 44th POTUS was shown on the 11 outlets of ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNN, Centric, CNBC, FOXNC, and MSNBC.
PREVIOUSLY: UPDATED with early Nielsen numbers: Donald Trump never mentioned the unprecedented government shutdown nor the Democrats’ newly installed majority in the House of Representatives in his second official State of the Union address Tuesday night, but it sure felt like he talked about everything else.
At 82 minutes and with POTUS’ red tie askew, the primetime speech also received some unexpected applause from unexpected areas when white-suited female Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rose for Trump’s comments about the growing role of women in the workforce and in Congress.
Almost as long as Bill Clinton’s 2000 SOTU and two minutes more than his own 2018 address, last night’s speech saw the former Celebrity Apprentice host hold pretty tight to the teleprompter like last year as he hailed the economy and insisted the state of the union is strong.
What was also strong was the audience at home for a President well known to be obsessed with ratings. Fox News Channel topped all networks covering the speech for a second year in a row, drawing 11.1 million viewers and 2.8 million in the key adults 25-54 news demo from 9-10:30 PM ET in early Nielsen numbers. That topped No. 2 NBC, which drew 7.1M viewers and 2.6 million in the demo. That outpaced fellow broadcast net CBS, which had been leading among the Big 4 in the early metered markets.
Fox News led its cable rivals in primetime (8-11 PM ET) too, with 8.5M viewers and 2.02M adults 25-54; MSNBC was a distant second in viewers, while CNN was second in the demo. During the 9-10:30 time slot, MSNBC delivered 3.8M viewers and 798,000 in the demo, and CNN 3.4M and 1.2 million in the demo.
Coverage of Stacey Abrams’ Democratic response following the address was also paced by Fox News, with 6.4 million viewers and 1.6 million in adults 25-54. MSNBC and CBS followed with 4.7 million viewers apiece, with the latter edging the former in demo viewers (1.4M-1.1M).
With individual rises for all of the Big 4, last night’s SOTU was up overall more than 10% in the early metrics from Trump’s official inaugural address to the House members and the Senate of January 30 last year. It’s a rare feat for any President this deep into his term, the rise also shows that Trump will eclipse not only his own first SOTU and his 2017 address to Congress but also the second SOTU of his predecessor Barack Obama.
Over 11 outlets, the 44th POTUS pulled in 30.9 million for his January 25, 2011 speech – a number Trump looks likely to beat with ease when the final numbers come in later today.
Speaking of final numbers, Trump’s first SOTU last year ended up snaring 45.6 million viewers watching on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, Univision, PBS, Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, FBN, NBC Universo and Estrella.
With that, as always, we’ll update with more SOTU numbers as we get them.
UPDATE, 8:37 AM: As more and more responses to Donald Trump’s second State of the Union speech trickle in this morning, more ratings are also being delivered.
Now, fast affiliate numbers from Nielsen are almost always subject to significant change in live events like major league sports, Hollywood awards ceremonies and SOTUs. Which means the real solid results, including ratings from the cable newers and the eventual total audience figure, will come later.
However, as it is right now, POTUS seems to have certainly bested himself with what is now the third longest SOTU ever.
Between 9 – 11 PM ET, the address to Congress and subsequent pundit and political response on top rated NBC (1.4/7), Fox (1.1/5), CBS (1.0/5) and ABC (0.9/4) has pulled in around 20.4 million viewers. At least in sets of eyeballs that’s a bop up of 3% over the 2018 State of the Union address, Trump’s first one officially.
Looking back at Trump’s first official SOTU, the two-minute longer 2019 version was up 2.3% overall among adults 18-49 on the Big Four compared to 2018.
As for the rest of the small screen night, NBC’s pre-SOTU offering of Ellen’s Game of Games (1.4/7) slipped 13% in the key demo from last week to a season low. ABC’s American Housewife (0.8/4) and The Kids Are Alright (0.8/4) were pretty much the same as their last originals among the 18-49’s, but the demo season low hitting former rose to a season viewership high of 4.7 million. Not showing Trump’s speech, the CW saw The Flash (0.7/3) speed ahead a tenth from its January 29 show. Follow up Roswell, New Mexico (0.4/1) was also up a tenth from last week.