Here’s How Many People Watched President Biden’s First Address to Congress

By A.J. Katz 

UPDATE (5:45 p.m. ET):

Nielsen now reports that an estimated 26.9 million people tuned in to watch President Biden’s inaugural address to a Joint Session of Congress. While coverage varied by network, 16 aired live coverage from approximately 9:00 p.m. ET to 10:15 p.m. ET.

Out of home viewing as well as connected TV viewing are included in the 26.9 million total. Contribution coming from CTVs can be as much as 11% for televised political events.




Per early viewing data from Nielsen, President Joe Biden‘s first address to a Joint Session of Congress (the traditional first-term equivalent of the State of the Union) garnered 22.6 million total TV viewers and 5.6 million adults 25-54 on 7 Nielsen-measured English broadcast and cable networks. That figure will increase after final Nielsen live-plus-same-day data (and data from the Spanish language broadcasters) roll in later today.

As expected, that total is down from then-President Trump’s first address to Congress on Feb. 28, 2017 , which was watched by 47.7 million on 8 Nielsen-measured broadcast and cable networks, according to Nielsen.

Additionally, Trump’s final State of the Union address in February 2020 drew more than 37 million total viewers on 8 Nielsen-measured broadcast and cable networks. The 37.2 million total is after final live-plus-same-day data rolled in … the “early data total” was 34.2 million.

ABC was the top-rated network for live coverage of last night’s address, both in total viewers (4 million) and among adults 25-54 (1.2 million).

MSNBC was the most-watched cable news network for coverage of the address (3.94 million), while CNN averaged the most adults 25-54 of any cable newser (879,000).

Here’s a look at early TV viewing numbers for the address, which ran from approximately 9-10:15 p.m. ET.

Address to Congress (9-10:15 p.m. ET)

  • 9-10:15 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo

ABC: 4,025,000 / 1,174,000
MSNBC: 3,941,000 / 656,000
NBC: 3,542,000 / 946,000
CBS: 3,367,000 / 730,000
CNN: 3,180,000 / 879,000
Fox News: 2,920,000 / 586,000
Fox TV: 1,630,000 / 653,000

*Source: Nielsen Fast National Data.

Republican Response (10:30-10:45 p.m. ET)

  • 10:30-10:45 p.m. ET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo

Fox News: 3,197,000 / 547,000
ABC: 2.897,000 / 808,000
MSNBC: 2,725,000 / 434,000
NBC: 2,469,000 / 719,000
CBS: 2,311,000 / 546,000
CNN: 2,080,000 / 623,000

Fox News and ABC were the top-rated networks for coverage of the Republican response, given by South Carolina senator Tim Scott. Fox News averaged the most total viewers (3.2 million), while ABC averaged the most adults 25-54 (808,000). Fox News averaged more viewers for the Republican response than for President Biden’s address.

A total of 15.7 million across six networks watched the response, according to early data from Nielsen.