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Last night, President Donald Trump appeared before Congress to give a State of the Union address. It was a first for the 45th President, and many wondered how the address would fare, both in talking points and in overall viewership. (The State of the Union address aired on the big four networks--ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.) This week, the numbers finally came out, and they are up or down, depending on how you look at it. Overall, 23 million total viewers tuned in.
When comparing President Donald Trump's State of the Union address to Barack Obama's final State of the Union, Trump's did better. Reports indicate that Donald Trump's speech was up 19% over Obama's final State of the Union speech last year. However, if you look way back to the first State of the Union address that President Barack Obama made, President Trump's first State of the Union was down in the ratings compared to 2009, when 33.6 million total viewers tuned in.
That was eight years ago, of course, and TV viewership habits have changed a lot in that time. Way more viewers have DVR, for instance, than they used to, which means some people might simply choose to tune in to all or part of the State of the Union a day or two late. In addition, the overall numbers for last night's broadcast don't account for cable viewership on channels that were not ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.
Speaking of the major broadcasts of the State of the Union, the network breakdown is pretty interesting, too. Per TV By The Numbers, NBC was the big winner, with 8.3 total viewers tuning in after the network's popular competition series The Voice. CBS came in second in terms of total viewers, with 6.6 total viewers, although it is pretty telling that the Eye Network lost to ABC in the advertising demo. With only 5.1 millon total viewers, ABC did a 1.2 rating while CBS only managed a 1.0 rating. Fox trailed in fourth during the timeslot, with 3 million viewers watching between 9 and 10:30 p.m.
Unsurprisingly, a lot of other shows, including NCIS, The Wall, Riverdale, Kevin Can Wait and others were all in reruns on Tuesday night. I'm guessing this was because a big chunk of those shows' normal audiences were expected to hunker down in front of the TV during the State of the Union Address hours. Other presidents in the past have also been responsible for big scheduling changes.
Political events like these certainly make for a weird night of TV and totally skew the numbers the networks normally bring in. We're just happy that NBC opted to push back the This is Us finale to a night when the new freshman series could be the star draw. Things should be back to normal next week, of course, and This is Us will be back for its final episode in Season 1 then. To find out what else is heading to the schedule, take a look at our midseason premiere guide.