That surpassed the audience of 37.2 million for Donald Trump's last such address in 2020, but fell short of the 45.6 million who tuned in for Trump's first State of the Union speech in 2018.
Nielsen said it was “important to note” that this year's tally reflects the additional measurement of out-of-home viewing and viewership on streaming-enabled TV sets that rely on devices such as Roku or Xbox.
When the latter measurement is taken into account, viewership can increase as much as 13% for televised political events, Nielsen said.
Biden's first address to Congress after taking office, in 2021, drew about 27 million people, while Trump's comparable 2017 inaugural joint session of Congress address was seen by 47.7 million.
Nielsen measured viewership on 16 networks and channels that aired live coverage of Tuesday's roughly hour-long speech, in which Biden focused on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, inflation and the coronavirus pandemic.
Fox News Channel averaged the biggest audience for the address, an estimated 7.2 million. ABC averaged 6.3 million viewers, followed by CBS with 4.9 million; CNN’s 4.8 million; NBC’s 4.7 million; MSNBC’s 4.1 million; Fox, 1.9 million.