Skip to Content

In Battle for Eyeballs: Dems’ Response Beat Trump’s Wall Speech in TV Ratings

On the television ratings front, the Democrats’ response won the night over President Donald Trump’s wall speech. Ratings measured a slightly higher numbers of viewers watching the Democratic response following Trump’s Oval Office speech that attempted to justify the wall he promised throughout his campaign.

The Hollywood Reporter said early viewing figures showed 45% of people actively watching television tuned in during the time period of the president’s speech (9:00 to 9:15 p.m. Eastern) to one of the networks airing it, including ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox (broadcast), Fox News (cable), NBC, and MSBNC.

However, that number rose to about 47% in the next 15-minute block, during which Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presented a response. Those viewership numbers correspond to 28.1% and 29.3% of all people who watch television, respectively, or about 35 to 40 million people across the time periods.

Opposition response usually draws a reduced viewership, as people gradually tune out during a presidential address, making the higher ratings more striking, even if the numbers were just slightly above the president’s speech.

A Fox Sports executive tweeted early on Jan. 9 that the Democratic response outpaced the president’s speech with viewers on CNN (by 26%), MSNBC (by 15%), and ABC (by 3%), while CBS saw 3% more viewers for Trump. NBC, Fox, and Fox News had equal viewership.

Trump used his speech to blame Democrats for the partial government shutdown due to their unwillingness to fund his vision of a super-tall, multi-hundred-mile wall to supplement existing fencing and border security at the U.S./Mexico border. Pelosi said the speech was “full of misinformation and even malice.”

U.S. government statistics under both Obama and Trump show a continued decline in border crossing attempts and apprehensions, with levels at their lowest in 12 years.