President Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday pulled in just 26.9 million viewers, earning it the lowest ratings of any State of the Union address or speech to a joint session of Congress in 28 years, according to figures from Fox News Research.
#SOTU TV Viewers:
1993: 66.9M* (largest TV audience)
*Not an official SOTU pic.twitter.com/OZlUHmGQp4
— Fox News Research (@FoxNewsResearch) February 1, 2018
Biden’s ratings, as compiled by Nielsen, include viewers watching his speech on ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Fox News, MSNBC, Newsmax, NewsNation, and Newsy.
The viewership sits well below the ratings Biden’s predecessor enjoyed, with Donald Trump notching nearly 48 million viewers for his first speech as president to legislators in 2017. Trump’s final and least-watched State of the Union Address brought in 37 million viewers, according to Fox News.
Barack Obama’s first address as president to a joint session of Congress in February 2009 far outpaced Biden’s as well, having recorded 52.3 million viewers. Bill Clinton delivered the address with the largest audience, drawing 66.9 million viewers for his 1993 speech.
Biden’s speech, which was not an official State of the Union, was delivered before a much smaller in-person audience than would typically be present for a joint session, as only invited members of Congress were permitted to attend because of COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the House sergeant-at-arms. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who gave members of both parties an equal number of tickets, noted that the address “went from 1,600 people to 200 people,” adding that it is “a different dynamic, but it has its own worth.”
The low-key address touted the administration’s accomplishments on the coronavirus pandemic and the economy and also called on Republicans to reach across the aisle and compromise with Democrats to pass his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan and his newly introduced $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan.”