I confess: I grew tired of hearing Obama speak sometime around the first year of his Presidency, if not before. After seven years of his Presidency, it looks like America is coming around to where I am. Obama’s last State of the Union address, which he made sure to try to bill as a special, “non-traditional” one, was a historic flop with audiences when compared to previous State of the Union addresses. From USA Today:
About 31.3 million people watched President Obama deliver his last State of the Union address on network and cable television Tuesday — the smallest audience recorded since ratings company Nielsen started keeping track in 1993.
State of the Union ratings have been in steady decline over the past two decades, gathering less than half the audience they once did. In 1993, 66.9 million people watched President Clinton’s first address to a joint session of Congress. The previous record low was 31.7 viewers last year.
The White House has tried to spin this in its favor by saying that these numbers only reflect those who saw it on television but overlooks numbers from internet sources. Even so, TV is still the traditional medium people use to watch things like this. Nielsen also estimated that about 9.8 million people followed the address on Twitter, according to the article. Even adding those in and assuming they did not watch the address on TV, that brings the number up to around 41.1 million people. That still puts the speech below every SOTU prior to 2011, based on their TV numbers alone. The New York Times‘ video of the speech on Youtube, which began as a live stream, currently has just short of 277,000 views, and the Fox News live stream there sits at about 123,000 views right now, too. Both together would barely move the needle if added together with the other numbers
I suppose we will have to wait until we get some numbers from Amazon and Snapchat* to get an idea of how many people have seen the address, but if the Youtube streams are any indication, they probably won’t add to the overall totals much. Furthermore, it’s hard to really consider following the speech on Twitter or Facebook to be on the same level as actually watching it live. The White House is merely trying to cover up the fact that fewer and fewer people are interested in hearing what Obama has to say.
Even so, that’s no excuse for failing to pay attention to what the Obama administration will try in the President’s last year in office. At the very least, we know he’s planning some “audacious executive actions“, so we should have plenty of things to watch out for in 2016.