Update: Nielsen Says 26.9M Watched Biden Speech to Congress, 44% Fewer Than Trump’s in 2017

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 28: President Joe Biden addresses a Joint Session of Congress, with
Melina Mara - Pool/Getty Images

Update: The source article for this story has been revised with new numbers from Nielsen. The agency now estimates 26.9 million viewers tuned in across 16 U.S. television networks — still only 56% of the audience that watched President Donald Trump’s 2017 address.

The original story continues below.

Nearly 75 percent fewer Americans watched President Joe Biden’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday compared to former President Trump’s first address in 2017.

About 11.6 million viewers watched Wednesday night, according to Nielsen’s initial ratings data.

The numbers include viewership from Walt Disney Co.’s ABC, Comcast Corp’s NBC, ViacomCBS Inc’s CBS, and Fox. The numbers do not include cable news networks, such as Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC.

In contrast, the lowest rating President Trump’s scored for a congressional speech was 37.2 million in 2020.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he received the following numbers:

2017: 48 million
2018: 46 million
2019: 46.8 million
2020: 37.2 million

Biden’s speech focused on forwarding two large spending packages.

The first is the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan, designed to purchase items beyond what is traditionally considered infrastructure like paid leave, child care, caregiving, housing, kitchens for healthier school lunches, corporate tax hikes, eldercare, and research and development to address the warming of the globe.

The second plan is the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which is intended to grow social welfare services. Those items include universal pre-k and tuition-paid community college — an expansion of the role of government when it comes to raising and providing for American families.


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