State of the Union Ratings Down 11% From Last Year

MSNBC’s new primetime lineup last in cable news coverage of speech

President Obama's State of the Union speech was down 11 percent since last year's, drawing nearly 43 million people.

Of course, that's still a huge number, aided by the speech airing simultaneously on 11 networks.

The speech was down 18 percent from Obama's first address to the joint sessions of Congress in 2009, when 52 million Americans, curious of their new president, tuned in to watch. But it was up 14 percent from President Bush's last State of the Union in 2008.

Among cable news outlets, Fox News dominated, earning 4.96 million viewers. MSNBC, fresh off a big night for Lawrence O'Donnell's debut in the 8 p.m. time slot formerly held by Keith Olbermann, came in third with 2.5 million viewers, behind CNN, which had 2.98 million.

MSNBC, the No. 2 cable news network, had finished a stong second Monday, buoyed by curiosity about the start of the post-Olbermann era. Part of MSNBC's problem Tuesday, of course, was that NBC also covered the speech. It also finished third last year.