President Joe Biden may have used his first address to a joint session of Congress to drive home the message that his administration has made great progress during the first 100 days he’s been in office, yet viewer ratings beg otherwise.
The Democratic POTUS touted his achievements in confronting the public health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout while indirectly attacking the previous administration for the inherited “crisis” to an estimated 26.9 million viewers across 16 US television networks.
Nielsen ratings data was released on Thursday to show that Biden's audience, as he pitched his 1.8 trillion spending package to “transform and expand government’s role in the lives of everyday Americans” paled compared to his predecessor’s viewership.
The number of people who watched Joe Biden’s speech on Wednesday was nearly 44 percent less than the figure accrued by Republican President Donald Trump during his first address to a joint session of Congress in 2017.
At the time, the 46th POTUS commanded an audience of 47.7 million TV viewers on 11 networks.
If anyone wants to watch a real State of the Union speech from a legitimate President here is one of President Trump's greatest speeches of all time from last year. https://t.co/0gWXDqY8ae— Shem Horne (@Shem_Infinite) April 28, 2021
Even Trump's last State of the Union Address, delivered in February 2020, managed to attract 37 million viewers. For comparison's sake, ex-President Barack Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 drew 52.3 million viewers.
The Nielsen data represents viewers who watched on 16 broadcast and cable networks that carried the speech live. These include Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) ABC, Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O) NBC and MSNBC, ViacomCBS Inc's (VIAC.O) CBS and the Fox (FOXA.O) broadcast network and Fox News Channel, and AT&T Inc's (T.N) CNN.
ABC was seen as outstripping other networks on Wednesday night, with 4.03 million viewers, followed by MSNBC (3.94 million), NBC (3.54 million), CBS (3.37 million), CNN (3.18 million), Fox News (2.92 million), and the Fox network (1.63 million), per Nielsen figures.
According to NewsBusters, MSNBC reporters out to scope voter reactions to Joe Biden’s speech in Georgia and Florida had difficulty finding anyone who had stayed awake to do so. Many reportedly “just went to bed” on Wednesday night.
"I’ve got to tell you, most of the folks that I’ve spoken to here did not actually watch Joe Biden’s address last night. I’ve spoken to around a dozen folks and only two of them watched and listened to what he had to say last night," NBC News correspondent Priscilla Thompson was cited as reporting from Atlanta.
Another report, from Coral Gables, Florida, showed a similar trend.
“…about two-thirds of the people who we have tried to talk to here said they did not watch the President’s address. Not necessarily because they were boycotting it or intentionally not watching it, they just went to bed. They had to work, they had other things. This wasn’t top of their to-do list.
If the ratings are accurate, less than 4 percent of the US population tuned in to see Biden’s speech.
Experts state that generally, television ratings for recent live events have been plummeting. Audiences are shown to be opting for on-demand streaming services.
The recent live Oscars ceremony similarly recorded it’s lowest-ever TV audience. Approximately 10 million American viewers tuned in to watch the 93rd Academy Awards on 25 April 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
The figures represent a 58 percent drop from last year's ceremony.