TV Ratings: Trump’s First State of the Union Fails to Match Obama in Viewership

UPDATED: Viewership of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address is down slightly in the Nielsen ratings compared to his first televised address to Congress last February as well as President Barack Obama’s first such address.

On broadcast, Tuesday’s coverage of the speech drew 7.1 million viewers on NBC, 7 million on CBS, 5.4 million on ABC, and 3.6 million on Fox for a combined 23.1 million viewers.

Fox News topped both its cable and broadcast competition by a wide margin with 11.5 million viewers tuning into the network’s coverage of the speech, notching the highest-rated State of the Union address in the history of cable news. CNN was second with 3.1 million, with MSNBC drawing 2.7 million. Fox Business Network drew 572,000 viewers. Spanish-language broadcasters Univision and Telemundo added 2 million and 1.4 million respectively. The speech was also carried live on Estrella and PBS.

In total, President Trump’s address drew 45.6 million viewers across broadcast and cable, according to the final Nielsen tally. That number does not include those who live-streamed the speech.

Obama’s first State of the Union in 2010 drew 48 million viewers across broadcast and cable, while his first address before a joint session of Congress in February 2009 drew 52.4 million viewers.

In metered market households, Trump’s speech drew a 4.4 rating on NBC, a 4.3 on CBS, a 3.5 on ABC, and a 2.6 on Fox for a combined 14.8 rating. Trump’s first address to a joint session of Congress in February last year drew a 16 rating in metered market households on broadcast and ultimately drew 47.7 million viewers when cable news coverage was calculated. It is also not atypical for such addresses to lose viewership throughout the course of a presidency.

Very few originals aired on broadcast Tuesday night. For NBC, “Ellen’s Game of Games” (1.8, 7.7 million) was even, as were back-to-back episodes of “Fresh Off the Boat” on ABC at 8 p.m. (1.0, 4.2 million) and 8:30 (1.0, 3.7 million).

For the CW, “The Flash” (0.9, 2.6 million) was up by over 20 percent in both measures while “Black Lightning” (0.8, 2.2 million) was up over 30 percent in the demo and 10 percent in total viewers.

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