Mar 3, 2022 - Economy

38 million people watched Biden's State of the Union

Photo: Shawn Thew - Pool/Getty Images

An estimated 38.2 million people watched President Biden's first State of the Union address on television Tuesday evening, according to Nielsen, up 42% from his speech to a joint session of Congress last April.

Why it matters: His speech was highly anticipated, given the crisis surrounding Russia's war in Ukraine. Biden announced new measures to sanction Russia during the address, including banning Russian planes from flying in U.S. airspace.

State of the Union viewership
Note: 2022 figure is preliminary and subject to change; Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Details: The address was carried across 16 U.S. broadcast and cable networks, in English and some in Spanish.

  • Fox News drew the biggest audience numbers of all networks, with 7.2 million people tuning into the speech on average between 9:09pm and 10:10pm ET, followed on cable by CNN with 4.8 million viewers and MSNBC with 4.1 million viewers.
  • ABC led the broadcast networks with 6.3 million viewers, followed by CBS with 4.9 million viewers), and NBC with 4.7 million viewers.

The big picture: State of the Union address viewership has declined in recent years, as more viewers ditch traditional television for streaming alternatives. But Biden’s address still drew big numbers.

  • More people tuned in last night than did for the last four years of the Obama administration.
  • Platforms like Twitter and YouTube carried the full address live for free.

Yes, but: Biden’s speech still drew far fewer viewers than former President Donald Trump's 2018 State of the Union speech, which was watched by 45.5 million people.

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