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Obama Draws 33.5 Million Viewers to Speech on Networks

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech drew about 33.5 million U.S. viewers on major broadcast and cable TV networks, an 11 percent decline from his previous annual address to Congress.

The speech aired from 9 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. New York time last night on 15 networks and was carried on tape delay by Univision, New York-based Nielsen said today on its website.

The president began campaigning today for the activist second-term agenda he laid out last night, including a raise in the minimum wage and a plan to encourage new manufacturing jobs. Obama’s speech last year attracted 37.8 million viewers, down from the 52.4 million who watched his first speech to a joint session of Congress in 2009.

Comcast Corp.’s NBC said in a statement that it led all networks with 6.47 million viewers from 9 a.m. to 10:16 p.m., compared with 6.4 million for the CBS Corp. network. Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network attracted an audience of 5.94 million. News Corp.’s Fox broadcast network had 2.12 million, NBC said.

Among cable outlets, Fox News was first with 3.68 million viewers, and CNN was second at 3.64 million, according to a statement from Time Warner Inc.’s CNN. Comcast’s MSNBC was third with 3.03 million.

Along with raising the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, Obama appealed for votes on immigration and gun control, proposed making preschool available to all 4-year-olds, said he’d negotiate a new trade agreement with the European Union, and asked for $50 billion in infrastructure spending.

He also lauded steps by companies such as Apple Inc., Caterpillar Inc. and Ford Motor Co. to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.

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