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WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Joe Biden held his first-ever address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, and it seems that without the controversy that followed his predecessor around every step of the way, the ratings for such an important event have taken a big slip from the highs of the Donald Trump era.
According to Nielsen figures, it is estimated that 26.9 million people tuned in to watch Biden’s address, spread out over 16 cable and broadcast television networks. And while an audience that large would normally be considered quite impressive, they pale in comparison to the ratings that Trump – or even several other presidents – have pulled in over the years when addressing Congress.
Former President Trump’s first-ever address to Congress in 2017 drew in 47.7 million viewers, and his 2018 and 2019 addresses both went over 45 million viewers. Trump’s 2020 State of the Union speech was notably lower in viewership – 37.2 million – but was still considered impressive overall .In contrast, former President Barack Obama’s first congressional address in 2009 had 52.4 million viewers, while his State of the Union addresses ranged from 31.3 million viewers in 2016 to 48 million in 2010. Former President George W. Bush’s televised addressed pulled in numbers anywhere from 62.1 million in 2003 to 37.5 million in 2008. Former President Bill Clinton’s viewership was 31.5 million in 2000, considered his lowest point in terms of ratings.
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According to Nielsen, the majority of those who tuned in to watch Biden’s address were about 18.5 million who were 55 or older.
President Biden’s Congressional address wasn’t the only major television event this week that saw a noticeable drop in previously-established ratings; the Oscar Awards, which aired in Sunday night, had its lowest viewership in history, drawing just 10 million watchers, representing a 58 percent drop from 2020’s event.