How Social Media Audiences Reacted to the State of the Union Livestream

Last Tuesday, Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union Address. The speech was not only broadcasted on television networks across America but was also streamed Live on Facebook. Using Live video analytics we were able to get a detailed look into audience interactions and the results are telling. Find out how Facebook audiences interacted with the historical moment in real-time.

How Social Media Audiences Reacted to the State of the Union Livestream

Fox News and ABC News were among the outlets that streamed the State of the Union Address on Facebook. When comparing the two networks side-by-side a pattern emerges that sheds light on how specific audiences gravitate towards different news sources on social media. 

A Comparison of Live Video Views

However, this phenomenon is nothing strikingly new. In fact, social media has been in the spotlight most recently due to the political polarization of users’ News Feed. The data we uncovered using Live Video Analytics supports this claim further.

Fox News’ broadcast received over 700,000 views. Compare that to ABC News who’s livestream just received 177,000 views. What’s perhaps even more interesting is the video retention rate across the Pages. Fox News’ audience slowly dropped off towards the end of the address. However, for the most part, their Live Views remained consistent. ABC News’ video retention looks far different. Views start declining rapidly after an hour into the speech.

Get a Second-By-Second Overview of Facebook Live Videos


The Differences in Audience Reactions

A valuable aspect of Facebook Live is the ability to track how audiences are reacting to content in real-time. Being able to track how users are responding to the State of the Union Address helps illustrate the political temperature in the United States to a certain extent.

Just as Democrats and Republicans were divided on Capitol Hill, Facebook audiences were divided online. The highest-ranking Reaction Fox News received were Likes, coming in at 16,000. Likes represented more than half of their Total Reactions. Love Reactions followed close behind reaching nearly 14,000. Angry Reactions came in at just 855.

ABC’s Reactions tell a different story. Angry Reactions come out on top and appear 1,400 times throughout their live broadcast. Surprisingly, Like Reactions come in second place with a total of 1,300. It’s possible that ABC’s audience is more politically mixed than FOX’s which could help account for the two extremes.


Comments Were the Most Frequented Interaction During the Broadcast

Comments were the highest-ranking interaction for both news outlets. FOX News received nearly 49,000 Comments while ABC News fell shy of just 16,000 Comments. The way that audiences interact with viewers’ comments varied significantly. We can see that the top performing comment in terms of Reactions on FOX News totaled nearly 600. ABC’s top Comment by Reaction didn’t even make it to 30.

When it comes to the actual content of the comments, top FOX News comments tend to predominantly support Trump and the Republican Party. Again, ABC’s top comments aren’t so clear-cut. The highest performing comment is anti-Democrat while the two that follow close behind are anti-Trump.



In recent years Facebook has been making headlines from everything to Fake News to news segmentation. As a result, more and more questions are rising about how users interact with news on social media, in addition to which posts they actually see due to the personalization of the News Feed. Analyzing live videos in real-time has allowed us to gather insight into how audiences are responding – which is something that is impossible to capture on television.

Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been publicly questioning Facebook’s role in today’s society and is making amendments to set things right. In his post about Facebook’s plan for an algorithm change, we can see that Zuckerberg fears there is a problem with unity – not just on social media but in the real world. To combat this, Facebook has placed more emphasis on meaningful conversations, promising to show more content from friends, family, and even local news, in hopes of connecting people. Can Facebook’s News Feed mend bring us together? Only time can tell.

Social Media Marketing Manager

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