State of the Union viewership not 'highest in history,' despite President Trump's tweet

Trump's television viewership was less than that of the past three presidents.

The number, reported by Nielsen, estimates the total number of viewers who tuned in on television. It doesn’t account for viewers who live streamed the address, an increasingly common way of watching.

Still, the president chose to use this number -- the number of viewers who went for the traditional television experience -- to tout his numbers, tweeting that the ratings were “the highest number in history.”

But the data shows otherwise.

President Barack Obama’s first State of the Union address, delivered in 2010, brought in 2.4 million more television viewers. President George W. Bush drew 6.1 million more viewers for his speech in 2002, and President Bill Clinton pulled in 200,000 more viewers for his first address in 1994.

When asked about the accuracy of the tweet, a White House official said Trump was referring to the cable news ratings. The president mentioned Fox News, which drew the largest audience this year with 11.7 million viewers.

Though it varies, the total number of viewers tends to decline for each State of the Union address throughout a presidency. During Obama’s presidency, television viewership ranged from 52.3 million for his first joint address to Congress, to 31.3 million for his last State of the Union address.