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Obama’s SOTU bombs in the ratings

The TV ratings for Tuesday night’s State of the Union were the lowest of President Obama’s presidency, at 31.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen. 

{mosads}Obama’s high-water mark for an audience came in his first address in 2009, when 52 million people watched the speech. The numbers have been declining since then; last year, just over 33 million people watched. 

For comparison the AFC Championship football game on Sunday got around 10 million more viewers, at 42 million. The investigative drama “NCIS,” the highest rated network show, got around 20 million viewers last week. 

As technology advances and TV loses some of its central role, the White House has been adapting. It released the entire text of the speech online before Obama began the address, a break with tradition. The White House website had a livestream with added details about the president’s proposals. And the rollout for the proposals began in the week before the speech occurred.

“While traditional television viewership has declined, the impact and importance of the State of the Union address has grown,” senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer said in a blog post on Wednesday. “It’s changed from a live television event to a multimedia extravaganza. Millions of Americans will consume the address later via on-demand video and their social media feeds.”

Fox News led the cable networks with nearly 3.5 million viewers. CNN placed second with just over 2.5 million, while MSNBC came in third with just under 2 million Americans tuning in. 

The recent high for a State of the Union is President Bush’s address in 2003, which got 62 million viewers. The most recent speech lower than this year’s was President Clinton’s final address, in 2000, drew 31.5 million viewers.


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