Biden speech draws 26.9 mln viewers on U.S. TV networks

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U.S. President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) applaud, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, U.S. April 28, 2021. Chip Somodevilla/Pool via REUTERS

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LOS ANGELES, April 29 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden's first address to Congress on Wednesday night attracted an estimated 26.9 million viewers across 16 U.S. television networks, according to Nielsen ratings data released on Thursday.

Biden's audience slumped nearly 44% below the TV viewership for Republican President Donald Trump's first address to a joint session of Congress in 2017. Trump's remarks pulled in 47.7 million TV viewers on 11 networks.

In Wednesday's speech, Democrat Biden proposed a sweeping new $1.8 trillion "American Families Plan" and pleaded with Republican lawmakers to work with him on divisive issues.

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The Nielsen numbers reflect viewers who watched on 16 broadcast and cable networks that carried the speech live, including Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) ABC, Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O) NBC and MSNBC, ViacomCBS Inc's (VIAC.O) CBS and the Fox (FOXA.O) broadcast network and Fox News Channel, and AT&T Inc's (T.N) CNN.

The figures include people who watched via traditional television as well as some who streamed the speech via internet-connected TVs, but they do not capture all online viewership.

Television audiences for live events have fallen sharply in the past year as audiences have gravitated to on-demand streaming services.

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Reporting by Jill Serjeant Editing by Chris Reese

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