Fewer people have been watching the State of the Union and Joint Address to Congress over the past several years, even as it becomes easier to watch the speeches online through livestreams. Analysts watched carefully to see if the trend would continue with President Joe Biden, and viewers were low, Deadline reported.
Biden’s joint address broke tradition in 2021 because he delivered his first speech later in his term than previous presidents and because few people attended the event in person due to COVID-19. More people were watching online this year because guests were not allowed to attend in person. Only about 200 lawmakers and guests sat in attendance at the House chamber.
Biden delivered his speech at 9 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, April 28, 2021. If you missed the speech, you can watch it here.
Here’s what you need to know:
Biden’s Joint Address Viewers Dropped Well Below Viewers for Trump’s State of the Union
Viewers for the Joint Address to Congress dropped for Biden on Wednesday, April 28, 2021, Deadline reported. Only about 26.9 million people tuned in to watch his first speech. The numbers are based on Nielson ratings across 16 networks.
In 2017, 47.7 million people watched Trump’s first speech to Congress.
“Nielsen reported that the bulk of Biden’s audience — 18.5 million — were 55 and older. The figures include out of home viewing. Starting at around 9:10 PM ET, the just over one hour speech aired live last night on ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Telemundo, Univision, PBS, CNBC, CNN, CNNe, Fox Business Network, FOX News Channel, MSNBC, Newsmax, NewsNation and Newsy,” Deadline reported.
Far fewer people attended the speech in person due to coronavirus concerns, Deadline wrote.
“Unlike past Presidents, Biden entered wearing a mask and only had an audience of 200 total because of coronavirus safety protocols. Also, historically seated next to Nancy Pelosi, the Veep and first in line to the Presidency was for the first time a woman, former California Senator Kamala Harris. Additionally, coming just over three months after MAGA morons attacked the Capitol and attempted an insurrection, there was also Joe Biden’s wide ranging plans for a progressive overhaul of the function and role of government in American life, a pink slipping of the Reagan Revolution that has dominated DC for the past 40 years,” the news outlet reported.
Viewers Dropped By Double Digits in Trump’s 2020 State of the Union Address
The number of people watching Trump’s State of the Union address in 2020 dropped by a significant margin, Deadline reported. The ratings between 2019 and 2020 dropped by double digits. Most viewers who tuned in to the speech in 2020 were viewers on the Fox News Channel, which had an audience of 11.5 million. The combined results from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Fox Business, Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC showed there were 34.2 million viewers, a dramatic drop from 2019. However, Fox had more viewers in 2020 than they did in 2019.
In 2019, 46.8 million watched Trump’s SOTU. The New York Times reported the figures represented a 20% decline for Trump’s speech between 2019 and 2020. Fewer people watched the State of the Union in 2020 than tuned in to many of his other speeches.
“His address was down around 20% from 2019 across the three major cable new networks and the four major broadcast networks. Tuesday’s speech drew around 33.7 million total viewers when you add together Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, compared to the 42.2 million who tuned in last year for the same networks,” Variety reported.