Donald Trump’s State of the Union address’ TV ratings are in, and the numbers reveal a slight drop from his 2017 address to Congress, which is something that is to be expected of a president at this stage of his term and not at all unusual, Variety is reporting.
At this point, it bears noting that compiling TV ratings is a careful and exacting process that takes time and number-crunching to reveal a complete picture, and early numbers from the ratings industry should be considered preliminary. Further, presidential addresses – especially the State of the Union address – are almost always shown on all four major networks (ABC, NBC, Fox and CBS) and multiple cable channels (CNN, MSNBC, etc.).
With that out of the way, here’s how the numbers shake out on the broadcast TV side of things. On NBC, Trump’s speech drew a 4.4 rating, while CBS, ABC, and Fox drew 4.3, 3.5, and 2.6 respectively, for a combined rating of 14.8. By comparison, a popular show like This Is Us generally brings in ratings in the 4.4 range, according to Cinema Blend, translating to about 14-15 million viewers.
The cable numbers, however, aren’t in yet. Once those numbers are crunched, however, the number of viewers of the State of the Union Speech will probably be in the range of 45-50 million viewers.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 31, 2018
So, how does all of this compare to last year’s numbers? Trump’s address to Congress in February 2017 wasn’t an official State of the Union address but simply an address to a joint session of Congress, according to Deadline. That speech drew in a combined rating (broadcast and cable) of 16, or 47.7 million viewers, give or take. Using it as a benchmark, the ratings for Tuesday’s State of the Union address are down about seven percent.
That’s not particularly alarming. In 2009, Barack Obama drew in 52.4 million viewers across all networks when he addressed Congress, then brought in 48 million viewers when he gave his first official State of the Union speech in 2010 – an eight percent dip.
What the TV ratings fail to take into account, however, is the fact that many viewers skip TV entirely and watch content online. Over on YouTube, NBC’s live feed of the speech has drawn in 1.2 million views, as of this writing, compared to 1.1 million for last year’s speech. CBS News‘ live stream of the speech and post-speech coverage has, as of this writing, brought in 561,000 views. ABC News‘ coverage of the event on YouTube has brought in 178,000 views. Fox News split their YouTube coverage of the speech into four parts. Part 1 has drawn in 34,000 views, while Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4, have brought in 16,000, 13,000 and 12,000 views respectively.