UPDATED with latest: President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address drew an estimated 27.3 million viewers, a drop of 29% from last year, according to Nielsen.
That figure is the lowest audience for a SOTU in at least 30 years, according to Nielsen records. Biden’s 2021 speech to a joint session of Congress drew 26.9 million, but that event, coming just a couple months into his presidency, was not an official State of the Union speech.
The Nielsen figures were measurements of 16 TV networks. Last year, 38.2 million watched across 16 networks.
Nielsen said that 59% watched broadcast network coverage and 41% watched cable coverage. Some 73% of viewers were 55 and older, with 19% aged 35-54 and 5% 18-34.
According to updated data, Fox News topped coverage with an average of 4.69 million viewers, followed by ABC with 4.4 million, NBC with 3.8 million, CBS with 3.64 million, MSNBC with 3.6 million, CNN with 2.4 million and Fox Broadcasting with 1.66 million.
In the 25-54 demo, ABC posted 1.08 million viewers, followed by NBC with 1.0 million, Fox News with 846,000, CBS with 708,000, CNN with 646,000, MSNBC with 496,000 and Fox Broadcasting with 509,000.
The audience for the SOTU may have been impacted by TNT’s NBA coverage, as LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record. The game started in the latter part of Biden’s speech. According to Nielsen, the game drew and average of almost 3 million viewers.
PREVIOUSLY, Wednesday AM: President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address drew a total of 23.4 million viewers across major broadcasters and cable news network, a decline from last year, according to early Nielsen data.
Last year, the SOTU viewership across Fox News, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox Broadcasting and MSNBC averaged about 32.3 million. Viewership was down across the networks.
The total viewership figure is likely to increase as additional news outlets are factored in later today.
Fox News drew the largest audience, with 4.57 million total viewers, followed by ABC with 4.27 million, NBC with 3.68 million, CBS with 3.52 million, MSNBC with 3.46 million, CNN at 2.13 million and Fox Broadcasting with 1.6 million.
ABC was first in the 25-54 demo, drawing 1.03 million, followed by NBC with 978,000, Fox News with 793,000, CBS with 675,000, CNN with 617,000, Fox Broadcasting at 482,000 and MSNBC with 479,000.
The later part of the speech did have to compete with some counter programming: TNT’s NBA coverage in which LeBron James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record.
The SOTU evening is an important moment for all networks to showcase their anchors, correspondents and analysts to a larger viewing audience.
But that measurement has gotten a bit trickier to discern with the rise of streaming and no one standard on how to measure those watching network services like ABC News Live, NBC News Now and CBS News Streaming.
NBC, meanwhile, noted that the cumulative audience for three of its linear networks with SOTU coverage — NBC, MSNBC and CNBC — was 7.1 million. It also posted 1.46 million viewers in the 25-54 demo.
Must Read Stories
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.