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Nielsen Media Research reported Wednesday that an estimated 27.3 million people tuned in to the speech live over various networks, which was roughly 11 million less than the 38.1 million who Nielsen found watched the address in 2022.
This year’s viewership is also significantly less than President Donald Trump’s second SOTU address in 2019, when he had 46.8 million viewers, Nielsen’s historical data report shows, and is the lowest for any SOTU address since Nielsen began collecting SOTU address statistics in 1993 during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
The only smaller audience since 1993 was the 26.9 million who watched Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress in April 2021, which is not considered an official SOTU address since he had just taken office a few months earlier.
The 2023 SOTU address was carried live on 16 television networks, The Associated Press reported. Of those tuning in to the coverage, 59 percent watched on traditional broadcast networks and 41 percent on cable networks.
According to TVNewser, Fox News attracted the night’s largest audience with 4.7 million total viewers, followed by MSNBC with 3.6 million and CNN at 2.4 million, The Hill reported.
Fox News also beat out the “Big Three” broadcast networks for audience share. ABC captured the second-most total watchers in all viewing categories with 4.4 million, followed by NBC (3.78 million) and CBS (3.64 million).
Nielsen also found that 73 percent of all the people watching across all categories were 55 and older, with only 5 percent under the age of 35.
ABC took the top spot for adult viewers aged 25–54 (1.075 million) for the second year in a row.
Many political commentators said after the speech that Biden’s roughly 73-minute SOTU address sounded like a campaign launch for 2024, where he repeated the phrase “Let’s finish the job” at least a dozen times and touted his creation of “12 million new jobs—more jobs created in two years than any president has ever created in four years,” but never mentioned the spy balloon saga that dominated news headlines last week.
The 27.3 million total-audience figure does not include those who viewed on streaming services, PBS, Bloomberg, or online after the live event.
Nielsen began collecting data with Clinton’s first address to a joint session of Congress in February 1993, which drew 66.9 million viewers at a time when entertainment options were limited.
By Amy Gamm