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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Super Bowl Ratings Not Trumped by SOTU

Quick Take

The Super Bowl had double the viewers than the State of the Union address, contrary to a false claim on social media.

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TV viewership for Super Bowl LIII was below 100 million — marking a 10-year low for what is typically the most-watched program of the year, according to the Nielsen ratings.

But the big game, in which the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams for their sixth Super Bowl title, did not have fewer viewers than this week’s State of the Union address.

Nevertheless, popular posts circulating on Facebook this week advanced that false claim.

“The SOTU had more viewers than the Super Bowl and with the same result,” the posts read. “Patriots WIN!”

In reality, the game recorded about 98.2 million viewers on CBS, according to Nielsen. President Donald Trump’s annual address to Congress, meanwhile, logged an estimated 46.8 million viewers across 12 channels airing the speech live.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on the social media network.


Bauder, David. “Super Bowl reaches 100.7 million people, down from 2018.” Associated Press. 4 Feb 2019.

Nearly 47 Million Viewers Watch President Trump’s State of the Union Address.” Press release, Nielsen. 6 Feb 2019.

Super Bowl LIII Draws 98.2 Million TV Viewers, 32.3 Million Social Media Interactions.” Press release, Nielsen. 4 Feb 2019.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019