2016 State of the Union Ratings; CBS Wins Broadcast, CNN Tops on Cable

By Chris Ariens 

Update: According to final Nielsen data, 31.334 million people watched Pres. Obama’s final State of the Union address across 12 TV networks, making it the least-watched of his time in office. Last year’s address, which aired on 13 networks, had been the lowest with 31.71 million. In 2000, Bill Clinton‘s final State of the Union address drew 31.478 million on 7 networks.

The networks carrying the address live were ABC, Al Jazeera America, Azteca, CBS, CNN, FOX, FBN, FNC, Galavision, MSNBC, NBC and NBC Universo. Univision carried it on tape delay.

CBS News was the most-watched network overall drawing 6.89 million viewers. CNN was the most-watched cable network in both viewers and the A25-54 demo for the speech from 9:10 p.m. ET – 10:09 p.m. ET. CNN’s lead over Fox News was just 17,000 viewers, but a +73 percent advantage in the demo.

  • 9:10 – 10:09pmET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    CNN: 3,489,000 / 1,303,000
    FNC: 3,472,000 / 753,000
    MSNBC: 2,521,000 / 604,000

While CBS had the most viewers for the president’s speech, NBC held more of its post-address audience coming in first among the broadcast nets:


Earlier: According to early Nielsen numbers, Fox News was the most-watched cable network for President Obama’s final State of the Union address, while CNN was most-watched in the A25-54 demo. FNC edged CNN by just 15,408 total viewers, or .5 percent.

  • 9-10:15pmET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 3,511,279 / 768,879
    CNN: 3,495,871 / 1,308,157
    MSNBC: 2,537,812 / 604,835

CNN saw the most growth vs. the 2015 speech, up +37 percent in viewers and was tied with MSNBC for improvement in the A25-54 demo, with both up +28 percent. MSNBC was also up +27 percent in total viewers. Fox News was up 1 percent in viewers but down -8 percent in the demo.