State of the Union Ratings: Lowest — FOX Won Cable Views

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., Jan. 28, 2014

Updated at 3 pm EST with cable TV ratings

The early numbers are in, and they’re pointing to a new record low for TV audiences viewing President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speeches.

Between 21 million and 22 million tuned into the first hour of the prime-time address on broadcast television networks, according to the first numbers, which don’t take into account the smaller cable TV audiences. The speech spilled over somewhat, actually starting at 9:14 pm EST and running an hour and six minutes.

In the cable realm, according to Nielsen Media Research’s early data, Fox News Channel led the pack as usual, with 4.72 million viewers between 9:14  and 10:20 pm, the duration of the speech. MSNBC ran second, at 2.3 million and CNN trailed with 2.1 million.

That’s 9.1 million on the cable networks, and 21 to 22 million on the broadcasts — 31 million at most.

A slight decline from 33.3 million last year.

By comparison, more than 11.43 million watched CBS’s “NCIS” the hour before the State of the Union address. CW’s “Supernatural” drew 2.93 million during the State of the Union’s 9 pm  time slot. They don’t air the president’s speech.

The overall 33.3 million who tuned in for the 2013 State of the Union address represented the lowest-rated show since 2000.

Obama had drawn 37.8 million viewers in 2012, down from 42.8 million the year before, and 48 million the year before that, Nielsen reported. The 52.4 million viewing Obama’s first address in 2009 represented his best audience of all.

This year, in the first releases in one ratings count, 7.8 million tuned in to the State of the Union at CBS, 5.99 million at NBC, 4.8 million at ABC and 2.5 million at FOX broadcast affiliates.

By another count, CBS drew 7.43 million, NBC 6.64 million, ABC 4.89 million, FOX 2.83 million.

This is one of the reasons the White House was tweeting the hour-long speech last night, previewing it on Vine and following up with a virtual road tour on Friday, a “Google+Hangout,” in addition to the actual road trip that Obama is making today and tomorrow  in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

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