Advertisement

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

President Joe Biden arrives for the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 7, 2024, in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., watch. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
President Biden arrives for the State of the Union address on Capitol Hill as Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) watch. (Mark Schiefelbein / Associated Press)

President 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 to another term. He faces a bruising reelection contest this fall against his predecessor, presumptive Republican nominee Donald 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.

Read more: A wild year for cable news: Shakeups, firings and ratings challenges

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 probably 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 livestreams across its digital properties during the speech. ABC News said the audience for its stream on ABC News Live doubled compared with last year, but it didn't say how many people livestreamed the speech.

Sign up for our Wide Shot newsletter to get the latest entertainment business news, analysis and insights.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.