President Trump’s State of the Union address drew a significantly smaller viewership than in the previous three years of his presidency.
His address was down around 20% from 2019 across the three major cable new networks and the four major broadcast networks. Tuesday’s speech drew around 33.7 million total viewers when you add together Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, compared to the 42.2 million who tuned in last year for the same networks.
Fox News was by far and away the most watched network for the 2020 SOTU, drawing 11.5 million viewers during the 9 to 10:30 p.m. time period, meaning it was the only network to be up year-to-year. CNN’s coverage drew 2.8 million viewers, down from 3.4 last time around, while MSNBC shed around 1.6 million viewers to end up with 2.2 million in 2020.
Focusing on the major broadcast networks in particular, his speech on Tuesday drew 15.9 million viewers according to early estimates, a 21% fall from last year. CBS scored the largest audience for the SOTU with 4.6 million viewers, swiftly followed by NBC with 4.4 million. ABC and Fox were close together in third and fourth, with the former garnering 3.6 million viewers and the latter 3.4 million.
Trump’s speech on Tuesday featured a whole lot of fanfare, including awarding conservative radio show host Rush Limbaugh — who recently revealed his advanced lung cancer diagnosis — with a Presidential Medal of Freedom, surprising the family of Sergeant First Class Townsend Williams with his early return from deployment, and surprising a grade-school student with an “opportunity scholarship” to attend the “school of [her] choice.”
The president also touted America’s economy and appeared to position the last three years of his presidency as a step toward his “Make America Great Again” campaign.
However, the theatrics weren’t done there, as while Trump wrapped up his remarks, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up a printed copy of his remarks right behind him.