President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night drew an audience of 47.74 million people, pending a few updates — a smaller crowd than two of the past three presidents at the start of their time in office.
The audience was about 9 percent smaller than the 52.37 million people who tuned into Barack Obama’s first address to Congress in 2009. Bill Clinton’s drew a whopping 66.9 million back in 1993. Trump’s address did surpass the audience for George W. Bush’s address to Congress in February 2001; that speech had an audience of 39.79 million.
Trump’s speech also easily topped Obama’s final State of the Union in 2016, which had 31.3 million viewers, but that’s not much of a surprise.
A president’s first speech of this type is often the most-watched of his term. Neither Clinton nor Obama ever had as big an audience for subsequent States of the Union as in their first addresses. Bush was an exception in that his 2002 and 2003 speeches — the first delivered a few months after the 9/11 attacks and the second in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq — drew bigger crowds than in the previous year.
(The address Tuesday wasn’t officially known as a State of the Union for newly elected presidents; the official first State of the Union comes after the president has had a full year in office.)
Fox News had the biggest audience for Tuesday’s speech with 10.77 million viewers from 9:15-10:15 p.m. ET, beating NBC’s 9.14 million. CBS (7.16 million) was third, followed by ABC (6.07 million), CNN (3.94 million), Univision (3.4 million), FOX broadcast (3.08 million), MSNBC (2.68 million) and Fox Business (593,000). That adds up to 46.83 million. Nielsen’s total of 47.74 also includes PBS and NBC Universo.