US President Donald Trump may be noted as a fan of cable TV, but his first address to the joint session of Congress does not appear to have given him the ratings he will have wanted — with the opening address of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, garnering millions more viewers.

According to figures described by Variety as "still-not-quite-final" Nielsen numbers, the average audience for president Trump's hour-long speech to congress was 46.82m across nine networks. For Obama, the TV audience was an average of 52.37m.

Trump's biggest audience came from Fox News — which gave the president 10.77m viewers; followed by NBC with 9.14m, CBS with 7.16m, ABC with 6.07m and CNN with 3.94m.

The president previously hinted how highly he values ratings during the national prayer breakfast in Washington, DC in February 2017.

The Republican told the assembled audience and religious leaders to direct their prayers at actor and former California Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who, after recently taken over Trump's former position as host the Celebrity Apprentice, had seen viewing figures slide. "I want to just pray for Arnold ... for those ratings." Trump said.

Many were also quick to point out that Trump was attempting to roast a show on which he is still an executive producer.

Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump previously enjoyed high ratings as host of reality TV show The Apprentice Reuters

Schwarzenegger responded in a video, saying: "Hey Donald. I have a great idea. Why don't we switch jobs? You take over TV, cause you're such an expert in ratings. And I take over your job, so that people can finally sleep comfortably again."

Trump's address to Congress was called 'presidential' by many, in a turn that surprised people used to his off-the-cuff, rambling speaking style. Rather than the "American carnage" of his inaugural address, Trump focused on unity and the "renewal of the American spirit" - though none of his more controversial policy areas seemed to have changed.