President Biden’s February 7th State of the Union Address might have been full of entertaining gaffes and Bidenisms along with attention-grabbing calls for radical policies, but it still struggled in the ratings department.
In fact, Americans were so uninterested in what President Joe Biden had to say that viewership for the State of the Union address fell by a shocking 29 percent according to Nielsen data.
Deadline, reporting on the not-so-shocking crash in ratings for Brandon’s State of the Union address, said that:
President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address drew an estimated 27.3 million viewers, a drop of 29% from last year, according to Nielsen.
That figure is the lowest audience for a SOTU in at least 30 years, according to Nielsen records. Biden’s 2021 speech to a joint session of Congress drew 26.9 million, but that event, coming just a couple months into his presidency, was not an official State of the Union speech.
The Nielsen figures were measurements of 16 TV networks. Last year, 38.2 million watched across 16 networks.
There were some other interesting bits of information from the speech, which was carried on both network and broadcast TV and from numerous news channels, including Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and CNN.
According to the data, about 59 percent of viewers watched the address on broadcast TV compared to the 41 percent that watched it on cable TV. Even more interestingly, nearly three-quarters of the audience was 55 or older, with just 5 percent of those who watched being between 18 and 34. The remainder, 19 percent, were between 35 and 54. Given the Democratic Party’s reliance on young voters, that lack of interest in what Biden has to say could prove problematic in the 2024 election.
Also interesting was on which channel people watched the address. As Deadline reports, “Fox News drew the largest audience, with 4.57 million total viewers, followed by ABC with 4.27 million, NBC with 3.68 million, CBS with 3.52 million, MSNBC with 3.46 million, CNN at 2.13 million and Fox Broadcasting with 1.6 million.”
So, though Fox News Channel led the pack, this was one of those rare nights where its main competitors, CNN and MSNBC, has combined results that won out in the ratings battle. Further, the results show the audience to be quite left-leaning as shown by channel selection, with FNC’s more liberal competitors bringing in a combined audience far larger than what it brought in.
So, though younger Americans generally tuned out the State of the Union address and didn’t watch it, Democrats were still overwhelmingly more interested in the address than Republicans.
One potential problem with the ratings and the demographics given is that those who watch on streaming services are not taken into account by the data. So, that could be another reason why the younger demographic was so underrepresented, as younger people tend to prefer streaming services to legacy television services, particularly cable.
Further, that could explain part of the massive drop: if those services aren’t counted in the total, perhaps some of the nearly 30 percent drop could be explained by people watching on the uncounted streaming services instead of cable or broadcast TV.
By: Will Tanner. Follow me on Twitter @Will_Tanner_1