31.8 million watched Obama’s healthcare address


The Nielsen Company reports that 31.8 million people watched Wednesday as President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress on healthcare legislation. That was up from the 25 million who watched a July presidential press conference on healthcare, but down from Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress in February.

The Wednesday address was carried live from 8:00 pm (ET) to approximately 9:06 pm on 11 television networks. The sum of average audience for those networks was 31,848,596 viewers. The networks carrying the press conference were ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, Telemundo, BET, CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, and MSNBC.

Viewership to the address was down 39% from President Obama’s first address to a joint session of Congress on February 24, which aired from approximately 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm.

President Obama Addressing Joint Session of Congress
Date Networks Households Viewers (P2+)
September 9, 2009 ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision*, Telemundo*, BET*,
CNBC, CNN, FOX News Channel, Galavision and MSNBC
23,420,629 31,848,596
February 24, 2009 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC,
CNN, FOX News Channel and MSNBC
37,185,000 52,373,000
Source: The Nielsen Company
*Aired address on Tape Delay. All data are based on LiveSD stream.

Nielsen noted that the July 22 press conference on healthcare was carried by 11 networks. It drew a combined 24.7 million viewers, the lowest tally of four televised press conferences by President Obama.