Ratings: 2015 SOTU is Least-Watched Since 2000

By Chris Ariens 

Update: Final numbers are in and last night’s was the least-watched State of the Union since 2000. Nielsen estimates viewership at 31,710,349 on 13 networks. In 2000, Bill Clinton‘s final address drew 31,478,000 on 7 networks.

As we told you earlier, CBS was the most-watched for the State of the Union on broadcast TV. And with the early numbers just in for cable, Fox News was the most watched among total viewers, while CNN was No. 1 in the A25-54 demo.

But when everything is added up, 2015 is poised to be the least-watched State of the Union in at least 15 years. On the big four broadcast networks and big three cable networks a combined 28.12 million (preliminary) watched last night. We do not have the data for FBN, AJAM, Galavision and 2 other networks that carried. But an additional 5 million would have to watch to top last year’s 33.5 million, which was the least-watched since 2000. Telemundo and CNBC did not carry the address this year. Univison aired it on a tape delay. Fusion, CNBC World and Bloomberg carried the address live, but are not measured by Nielsen.

By comparison, George W. Bush‘s second-to-last State of the Union address on Jan. 23, 2007 was watched by 45.49 million viewers on 9 networks. Bill Clinton‘s second-to-last on Jan. 19, 1999 was watched by 43.5 million on 7 networks.

Nielsen tells us they’ll have final numbers later this afternoon. Here’s the breakdown of cable news viewership:

  • 9-10:15pmET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 3,471,405 / 834,168
    CNN: 2,556,948 / 1,021,420
    MSNBC: 1,994,670 / 473,460
  • 9-11pmET | Total Viewers / A25-54 demo
    FNC: 3,484,558 / 827,819
    CNN: 2,374,686 / 982,428
    MSNBC: 1,996,176 / 493,685

Compared to the 2014 State of the Union, CNN is the only cable network to show growth: up +27% in viewers and up +40% in the demo; FNC is down -25% in viewers, and down -29% in the demo; while MSNBC is down -12% in viewers and down -36% in the demo for the actual speech (9:00-10:15pmET).

For primetime (8-11pm) Fox News was No. 1 in viewers while CNN took the demo, and was, again, the only network to show year-over-year growth: up +27% in viewers and up +49% in the demo. FNC was down -22% in both viewers and the demo while MSNBC was down -6% in viewers and down -30% in the demo. FNC took back the demo at 11pm for Megyn Kelly‘s hour.

And here’s the viewership for all State of the Union Addresses (or in the case of 2009, an address to the Joint Sessions of Congress) given by Pres. Obama:

1/20/2015: 31,710,349
1/18/2014: 33,299,172
2/12/2013: 33,497,607
1/24/2012: 37,752,613
1/25/2011: 42,789,947
1/27/2010: 48,009,595
2/24/2009: 52,373,000