Building on one of his biggest media moments ahead of the November election, President Biden delivered a State of the Union address Thursday that doubled as a campaign kickoff speech, presenting himself to Americans as a still-fighting leader. and prepared for the rigor of an exhausting campaign. Campaign.

It remains to be seen whether his speech resonates with voters. But many tuned in to see what he was offering.

The live audience for Biden’s speech will likely surpass last year’s television audience of 27.3 million, according to early figures released by Nielsen on Friday. Preliminary figures show that approximately 28 million people watched the show on major cable and broadcast networks, a figure that will likely increase once smaller channels are included. A final count is expected Friday night.

The 66-minute appearance is likely to end up being Biden’s second-most-watched speech to Congress. Its first, in 2021, attracted 26.9 million viewers, and around 38.2 million watched it in 2022, days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Biden’s next opportunity to capture such a large audience is likely to be the presidential debates scheduled for the fall. Speeches at summer political conventions don’t typically attract more viewers than a State of the Union address.

Nielsen’s ratings do not take into account many Americans who tuned in through television streaming platforms, online news sites and social media posts. That group represents a growing share of the total audience as viewers abandon traditional cable systems. But there is no agreed-upon metric to accurately measure online views, so Nielsen data offers the best comparison to previous years.

On Thursday night, Fox News drew 5.6 million viewers, the largest live audience of any network for the time slot that encompassed Biden’s speech and the Republican rebuttal by Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama. ABC was watched by about five million people, the largest audience of the three largest television networks.

NBC ranked first among viewers ages 25 to 54, the most important demographic for advertisers in the television news industry.

Biden’s advisers appear to be gradually coaxing him out of his media cocoon after allies raised concerns about his limited public appearances. In particular, the White House’s decision to skip a traditional interview before the Super Bowl set off alarm bells in Democratic circles.

The president is now embarking on a series of campaign stops. On Saturday, he plans to attend an interview with Jonathan Capehart, a left-leaning MSNBC host and commentator. The interview will be Biden’s first with a major television network since he spoke with CBS News’ Scott Pelley in October.