Fox News Dominates Cable Ratings for State of the Union Address

State of the Union Ratings
Larry Downing-Pool/Getty Images

It beats combined viewership of MSNBC, CNN; overall tune-in across broadcast, cable down 12% from last year to 33.3 million

Fox News flexed its muscles as the most popular cable news outlet Tuesday night, as its coverage of the State of the Union address out-drew the combined tune-in of rivals CNN and MSNBC. It was also the only one to be up vs. last year’s speech.

Overall, meanwhile, Nielsen estimates that an average audience of 33.3 million watched the SOTU on 14 broadcast and cable stations, including a tape-delayed airing on Univision. This is down 12% from last year’s 37.8 million and the smallest since President Clinton’s last address, in 2000 (31.5 million).

According to Nielsen estimates for roughly 9:14-10:20 p.m. ET, Fox News Channel averaged 4,718,853 viewers — more than double MSNBC (2,292,169) and CNN (2,081,431). FNC held a sizable advantage in the key news demo of adults 25-54 as well (1,197,554), with CNN ranking second by this measure (762,450) and MSNBC third (752,054).

From 9 to 11 p.m., FNC, whose coverage was anchored by Bret Baier, averaged 4.51 million viewers, followed by 2.17 million for MSNBC and 1.88 million for CNN.

It was a much tighter race a year ago, with Fox News only narrowly leading CNN in total viewers and finishing third in adults 25-54. (CNN’s performance a year ago may have been boosted by its breaking news coverage reporting on the manhunt of Christopher Dorner in the California mountains before and after the president’s speech.)

Compared to the 2013 State of the Union address, held in February, Fox News was up 28% in total viewers (from 3.68 million) and 25% in adults 25-54 (from 956,000), while CNN was down more than 40% in both categories and MSNBC was off by more than 20 in both.

This was CNN’s least-watched SOTU since 2005 in both total viewers and the 25-54 demo, and it was MSNBC’s lowest since 2008.

On the broadcast side, CBS led in average audience for the SOTU address, while NBC was tops in key demos. For the post-address analysis, NBC led with 6.702 million viewers (and a 2.1/5 in adults 25-54) while CBS drew 6.558 million (and a 1.7/4 in 25-54) and ABC bagged 5.565 million (and a 1.7/4 in 25-54).

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  1. Gabby Parsons says:

    According to my math if you add up all the NON Fox news station viewers far more people watched other channels than watched Fox.

  2. patric says:

    such a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this nation when so many choose a demonstrably distorted network, filled with pseudo-news, distortion and outright lies on a daily basis.
    truly pathetic, and just as pathetic are the majority of comments which apparently all follow the mindless propaganda spewed by fox “news”.
    fox, its worthless staff and on air ‘personalities’ (not news people), and most of the individuals commenting here all represent the delusional freaks which populate the right wing/conservative zone of ignorance: totally divorced from reality.

    • Yet not one single example of the “outright lies” you accuse them of telling. If you think James Rosen and Catherine Herridge are worthless then perhaps you’re too busy reading Teen Beat instead of following what’s actually going on in our world.

    • Jim says:

      That is the stupidest comment you could have possibly made under any circumstances, Pal.

    • Steve Greenwood says:

      You are an intellectual moron.

      • patric says:

        actually, my apologies if you were referring to the imbecilic post by john o’neill above.

      • patric says:

        intellectual moron?? hahahahahahhahaha oh. my. god. do you even realize what you typed? haha you people prove my point every time you open your worthless mouths or type your worthless views.
        too funny.

    • Col. Angus says:

      Such a sad commentary on the state of affairs in this nation when so many choose the demonstrably distorted political philosophy of liberalism/progressiveism, filled with hate, distortion and outright lies. Truly pathetic, and just as pathetic are the majority of voters who apparently all follow the mindless propaganda spewed by the 0bama administration, the DNC and their enablers in the media, the bureaucracy and the NGOs. The 0bama White House, its worthless staff and FedGov “employees” (not civil servants) and most of the individuals who mindlessly support them all represent the delusional freaks which populate government, academia, the media, almost all NGOs, Planned Parenthood, labor unions, and the left wing/progressive zone of repulsive anti-American hatred totally divorced from reality and humanity.

      • patric says:

        hmmm, one problem (well, actually many problems) with your vacuous rant, and feeble attempt at cleverness thru distortion of original text: my words actually utilize the legitimate definitions thereof, i.e. the word ‘demonstrable’ actually has verifiable meaning in my context. in yours? nope.
        nice try delusional conservative freak.

    • steve mackey says:

      I dare you to ‘fact check’ Fox, but I already know you don’t have the integrity to be honest about what you find.

  3. The Superbowl will have about twice the number of viewers as the SOTU…

  4. Jane says:

    Maybe there are many households who don’t have cable. More likely, just stupid people!

  5. sabo says:

    Its no wonder that fox’s ratings have increased.
    They do a little thing that the liberal mainstreamm media fails to do on a daily basis,most eespecially with this president and his administration. ..
    Its called investigative jounalism.
    All this crap that has come to light regarding obama and his serial lies were reported by fox a year before he was elected in 2008.
    So its a no wonder that viewers are flocking to fox as opposed to those left wing media outlets that report what they hope for and what they want, instead of reporting whats true.

  6. Lee says:

    The frightening thing is that there are so many who watch the CNN and MSNBC propaganda and buy into into without so much as a single critical neuron firing.

  7. Jonus Grumby says:

    The cable numbers are all well & good, but how did ABC, NBC & CBS fare in camparison to Fox News for the speach?

  8. Walter says:

    TV ratings are probably the best indicator of how “The People” who are actually interested in the future of this country feel about wasting (or not) 65 minutes of their life…

  9. jp says:

    It’s beyond me why people argue over which is the best cable news. Who cares. This liberal vs conservative cr@p is downright disgusting. Who wants to watch the State of the Union address anyways? All you see are a bunch of privileged clowns in the audience acting like a bunch of idiots and hear a president with empty promises. I stopped watching Fox News after the last election. In fact I don’t watch any cable news. Feels good. BTW I’m saving almost $100 a month ditching cable and getting my local HD channels over the air. I use my Roku 3 and Apple TV for other stuff.

  10. dominic says:

    There are not many out there that are more conservative than I am. But we have to understand that as a conservative, we only have one place to go to get our information. Liberals have MSNBC, CNN, CBS, ABC NBC, PBS and many other places. Of course Fox news beats each one of thes handily because Fox doesnt have any competition for the conservative viewer. We get crushed when we compare Fox to the combination of all other media. We have to understand that we are losing the media battle. If we were winning, liberals would never win another election. We have to stop watching the crap the networks put out and start boycotting their sponsors. Otherwise, nothing will ever change.

  11. Nova69 says:

    Why is this a surprise to people? People will watch news from a source they trust.

  12. Californian7 says:

    I enjoyed Frank Luntz’s focus group opinions on the SOTU….

  13. Mike Johnson says:

    This is classic spin. I refuse to be like ignorant conservatives who are too lazy to learn the truth.

    “Audience ratings have collapsed: Aside from a brief respite during the Olympics, there has been only negative ratings growth on broadcast and cable TV since September 2011, according to Citi Research.

    Media stock analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson recently noted, “The pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.” All the major TV providers lost a collective 113,000 subscribers in Q3 2013. That doesn’t sound like a huge deal — but it includes internet subscribers, too.”

    People with the intellect and cognitive skills to embrace the Information Age are leaving old people and those who can learn new technologies watch TV.

    The average age of a Fox News viewer proves this. The average age of a Fox News viewers is 65 and barely still alive.

    Bitter senile old folks prefer Fox News.

  14. ted says:

    I’d be interested in knowing the amount of peop[le who watched the speach with the sound turned off.

  15. TM says:

    Correct. Many large businesses help democrats craft regulations that they can afford but smaller companies cannot, thus squashing competition from smaller, more innovative companies who have better products and service.

  16. Sanford says:

    Who is the “Main Stream Media” now?

  17. Mike says:

    Keep in mind that a lot of us Fox regulars did not watch the speech at all. Otherwise it would have been an even bigger difference.

  18. Lynn says:

    This doesn’t surprise me. Brett Baier is top notch. He’s what all other news anchors should strive to be. Love his panel too.

  19. steve k. says:

    Come on everyone, where can you find a comedy network as good as MSNBC. You have the speech theripst Big Al, wanna be a professional Chris Matthews, and the little geek wanna be a TV host Chris Hayes. Watch these guys for what they are worth, comedy hours. Any time I need a good laugh the three stooges never let me down.

  20. E. T. Bettcher says:

    Conservatives who favor FOX just indicate how engaged they are for the ‘take back of our country’ that starts November 2014!

  21. The talking heads over at Fox guard the inhabitants of Bullsh*t Mountain from rejoining the world of the sane and only serve their own warped ideology. Fox News is a propaganda machine which dumbs down America by the day through disinformation and their slanted agendas. See what’s really coming out of their mouths at

    • Selena says:

      Oh, southern, you haven’t seen “dumbing down” until you watch the daytime TV that the “% who don’t pay taxes” watch. I work in a hospital, the most complaints we get are from educated patients who can’t stand to be in the waiting areas due to the stupid TV those “tax free %-ers” are watching. Their idea of entertainment is to watch Povich, and try to figure out “who the daddy is”! So you can take your opinion of FOX and join your ignorant buddies watching Povich yell “you ARE the father!” Thank God for private schools!!!!

  22. Diane Ryan says:

    Fox News just looks like a conservative media. We still have to depend on the alternative media for the WHOLE truth. Hannity, what about the 3rd tower that fell on 9/11?

    • mtumba djibouti says:

      Jeff – that’s great except that if you look at the video of Building 7 coming down, all four sides come down simultaneously. The fold into the building – nothing comes out. It happens in just a few seconds. It looks exactly like a demolition. It’s a very striking video. Structural engineers from around the world agree that it looks like a demolition. Nobody can say for sure because the site was quickly bulldozed and no independent engineers were allowed access to any records.

  23. maybe liberals have lives and go on with working or relaxing and not glued to FOX news 24/7 waiting to be told what to do….

    I am as right wing as it gets…FOX is just horrible anymore…enjoy your families

  24. Metalman says:

    an indicator of how the electorate will turn out for the mid-terms.

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