Biden's State of the Union Address draws 32 million TV viewers, topping last year's speech

President Joe Biden’s feisty State of the Union address Thursday saw a substantial lift in viewing compared with last year’s speech.

Nielsen data showed the average TV audience across 14 networks carrying the event was 32.2 million viewers, an 18% increase over the 27.3 million who watched in 2023.

The number fell short of Biden’s most watched State of the Union address in 2022, which averaged 38.2 million viewers.

The speech before a joint session of Congress was highly anticipated as Biden, 81, has been plagued by questions about whether he is physically and cognitively up for another term. He faces a bruising re-election contest this fall against his predecessor, and presumptive Republican nominee, former President Trump.

Biden appeared robust and combative throughout the address that went slightly over an hour. Even the president’s critics said the performance was likely to silence any calls to replace him at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Fox News had the most TV viewers with an average of 5.8 million watching from 9:15 to 10:45 p.m. Eastern. The figure was up 20% from last year’s coverage on the network.

It was the third consecutive year that Fox News had the largest audience for the annual address.

ABC was second with 5.2 million viewers, followed by NBC (4.5 million), MSNBC (4.3 million), CBS (4.1 million), CNN (2.6 million), Fox broadcast network (1.8 million) and Fox Business Network (244,000), and CNBC (112,000). The speech was also carried by NewsNation, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, Newsmax and CNN en Español.

The speech was likely seen by millions more people through online video streams.

Although there is no official third party data available, Fox News said it counted 1.6 million live streams across its digital properties during the speech. ABC News said the audience for its stream on ABC News Live doubled over last year, but it didn’t say how many people live-streamed the speech.

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