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Nielsen: 25 million watched Obama's Afghanistan speech

June 23, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
  • President Obama speaks about the war in Afghanistan during a televised address from the East Room of the White House in Washington on Wednesday.
President Obama speaks about the war in Afghanistan during a televised… (Pablo Martinez Monsivais,…)

More than 25 million people tuned in to President Obama's prime-time address announcing a drawdown of troop levels in Afghanistan on Wednesday night, according to Nielsen data.

That's fewer than half the number that watched his speech at a far later hour announcing the death of Osama bin Laden on May 1, and one of the least-watched evening speeches of his presidency.

The 25.4 million viewers was down slightly even from the 25.6 million who saw his speech on U.S. military involvement in Libya in March, which aired at 7:30 pm ET, just before prime time.

The 15-minute speech was carried live on nine networks, including the four major networks. Thirty-one percent of all televisions in use were set to Obama's remarks.

His first major address on Afghanistan, from West Point in December 2009, had 15 million more viewers than Wednesday's speech.

The announcement of the killing of Bin Laden -- which came with little advance notice late on a Sunday -- was seen by 56.5 million viewers.

An August 2010 address from the Oval Office on Iraq drew 29.2 million viewers; his only other Oval Office speech, on the Gulf oil spill, was seen by 32.1 million.

Obama's two State of the Union addresses in 2010 and 2011 drew 43 million and 48 million viewers, respectively; 52.3 million saw his first joint session address in February 2009.

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