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Obama jobs speech tops the NFL (but, then, it was only the Packers)

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President Obama's speech Thursday on jobs to a joint session of Congress failed to outscore the TV ratings for his announcement of the killing of Osama bin Laden in May but did improve on his recent speeches on Libya and Iraq.

And his 4,102 words also outpaced the NFL kickoff that came right after them.

The speech -- which included 17 variations on a demand that Congress pass a jobs bill that hasn't been rendered into legislative text yet -- was carried live from 5-6 p.m. Pacific time on 11 channels: ABC, AZA, CBS, NBC, Telemundo, Univision, CNBC, CNN, FBN, FNC and MSNBC.

Among the cable newsers, Fox News did the best.

Here are the box scores from Nielsen Co. ...

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Broken down by cable networks, Fox News came first with close to 3.4 million (826,000 in the target Adults 25-54 demographic); CNN second, with just north of 1.8 million (645,000 in A25-54); and MSNBC third, with just over 1.6 million (430,000 in the demo).

By way of contrast, the president's first address to a joint session of Congress on....

...Feb. 24, 2009, drew 52.3 million viewers. It also addressed jobs, with the president discussing his "economic agenda," saying that "it's an agenda that begins with jobs."

But his next speech to a joint session, on Sept 9, 2009, drew only 32.1 million. Though it primarily focused on healthcare, the president also said, "I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them."

Apparently, he let up long enough to give several more speeches on healthcare on the path to "Obamacare" passing the Democratic-controlled Congress and being signed into law in March 2010.

The president's last State of the Union address, on Jan. 25, outdrew all of the above (except the Bin Laden announcement), pulling in 42.7 million viewers, a downtick from his first one, on Jan. 27, 2010, which attracted 48 million.

The jobs speech was moved from Wednesday night -- where it conflicted with the GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and caused logistical problems for House Speaker John A. Boehner -- and moved to Thursday. There, it had the potential of conflicting with the kickoff game for the NFL regular season, featuring the last two Super Bowl champions, with the Green Bay Packers taking on the New Orleans Saints.

To the relief of football fans across America, the president kept his promise to be done and out before the kickoff. (And fear of crowding the kickoff was also why you didn't see a Republican rebuttal.)

The Packers scored a 42-34 victory over the Saints at Green Bay's Lambeau Field, attracting 27.2 million viewers, a slight downturn from last year's NFL opener. That was a rematch of the previous season's NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and, again, the Saints, which drew 27.5 million.

RELATED:

Rick Perry's debut gives MSNBC top GOP debate ratings so far

961 days in, Obama becomes sick and tired of someone dawdling about jobs

Obama's jobs speech to Congress: Providing 'a jolt to an economy that has stalled'

-- Kate O'Hare

Media critic Kate O’Hare is a regular Ticket contributor. She also blogs about TV at Hot Cuppa TV and is a frequent contributor at entertainment news site Zap2it. Also follow O'Hare on Twitter @KateOH.

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Photos: President Obama, with Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John A. Boehner behind; graphic of speech ratings. Credits: Nielsen Co. (ratings); Kevin Lamarque / Pool / AP Photo (Obama)

 
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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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