President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night drew the lowest television rating of any such speech in more than two decades.
Nielsen released numbers
on Wednesday that show the president's speech was viewed on television by 19.9 percent of American households, the lowest figure in the Nielsen data that goes back to 1993.
In terms of viewers, 31.7 million people watched the speech over 13 broadcast channels — 12 live and one on tape delay. That's the lowest number of viewers since 2000, when 31.4 million people watched President Bill Clinton's final State of the Union. Obama's speech Tuesday night saw 23.1 million households tune in.
In the past 22 years, according to the Nielsen data, the highest-rated State of the Union was 1993; 66.9 million viewers watched Clinton's speech that year, amounting to a 44.3 rating. The second-highest watched State of the Union in that span was President George W. Bush's 2003 speech, which had 62 million viewers and turned in a 38.8 rating.
Nielsen also tracked social media activity around Tuesday night's speech, which lasted from 9 to 10:15 p.m. Eastern Time. Nielsen Social reports
that 9.7 Twitter users in the U.S. saw one or more of the 2.6 million Tweets about the speech while it was in progress.
"Twitter activity spiked toward the end of the television event at 10:08 p.m. [ET], when 44,000 tweets were sent in one minute following the president's reference to the fact that he has no more campaigns to run, having 'won both of them,' " Nielsen wrote.
The White House's official website,
meanwhile, reported there were 1.2 million views of the online broadcast of Obama's speech.
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