Interest in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address dwindled Tuesday night as the annual event pulled the second-smallest audience in at least 30 years, according to a Wednesday report by the Nielsen company.

The report said an estimated 27.3 million people tuned into a television network for the president’s address, which was down nearly 28% from the 38.2 million who watched last year.

Since 1993, the only audience smaller than Tuesday nights was recorded in 2021 when 26.9 million people watched Biden address Congress on April 28. 

The speech, was delivered unusually late due to precautions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, was not officially a State of the Union address since he had just taken office a few months earlier.

The 2023 address was carried live on 16 television networks. Fox News Channel brought the speech’s largest audience with 4.69 million viewers, while FOX’s broadcast network contributed 1.66 million viewers, Nielsen reported.

Viewership on the remaining national networks was as follows: ABC with 4.41 million, NBC with 3.78 million, CBS with 3.64 million, MSNBC with 3.55 million and CNN with 2.4 million.

A majority of the people (73%) who watched Tuesday’s speech were 55 and older, according to Nielsen. Only 5% of the audience were young adults under age 35.

Nielsen did not have figures available from before President Bill Clinton’s first address to Congress in 1993, which reached 66.9 million people – an impressive audience considering the limited entertainment options.

Biden’s second State of the Union address, which acted as a soft launch for a 2024 presidential bid, included statements about the economy, gun violence, police brutality in light of Tyre Nichols’ death, health care, the workforce and more.

The speech was met with strong reactions from politicians as Democrats cheered his calls to ban ‘assault weapons’ and codify Roe v. Wade, and Republicans booed his comments on the border and Social Security.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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