How many people tune into a State of the Union address
follows a certain pattern. Viewers seem more interested in first-year presidents and are more likely to tune in following a scandal or contentious issue. Over time, interest in one president’s SOTU addresses is usually wanes.
This is where president Trump is bucking the trend. More TV viewers tuned into Monday’s State of the Union Address than the year before. 46.8 million watched the president give the address, up from 45.6 million in the previous year, according to numbers by Nielsen
. 47.7 million watched Trump’s first address, officially called the “Address to the Joint Session of Congress” for first-year presidents, in 2017.
Since viewers are more likely to tune in when there is a problem, the recent government shutdown could be partly responsible for the good ratings. Also, Trump as a president has relied heavily on television to get his message out and is popular especially on one network: Fox News. 11.1 million viewers tuned in on Trump’s favorite channel on Monday, slightly up from 10.8 million viewers during this first address. Viewers of other networks have lost some interest over time, but Trump’s popularity on Fox has given him a nice boost in his SOTU ratings.
Yet, there is a general downward trend in these ratings as TV is becoming less important as a medium. For perspective: President Barack Obama’s first SOTU was viewed by 52.4 million people in 2009, President Bill Clinton’s by 66.9 million in 1993.