President Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday night drew just 33.3 million television viewers — the fewest since former President Bill Clinton's final delivery of the speech in 2000.
According to Nielsen, the address was carried live on 13 television networks, with the Spanish-language station Univision showing the speech on tape delay. Of American households, 20.7 percent tuned into the address, according to the ratings company.
The president's numbers were only down slightly from last year, however, when he drew 33.5 million viewers for a 21.8 rating. The president's television viewership has declined every year since 2009, when Obama drew 52.4 million viewers for his first joint address to Congress. President George W. Bush's worst-rated State of the Union drew 37.5 million viewers in 2008.
The Nielsen ratings do not incorporate viewers who may have watched the address online. This year, the White House streamed the speech on their website with an interactive sidebar displaying statistics and graphics about the president's address.
Nielsen reported that on Twitter, 8.8 million people saw at least one of the 2.1 million tweets posted about the speech Tuesday night. Activity on the social network spiked around 9:47 p.m., after the president called for equal pay for women in the workplace.
White House press secretary Jay Carney preemptively dismissed concerns about dwindling audiences earlier this month as "consistent with past presidencies."
"What is absolutely the case is that the State of the Union address for any President in any year of his or her presidency is an enormous opportunity to speak to legislators in Congress, but even more importantly, to the millions ... of Americans who tune in," Carney said.