The ratings reflect an improvement of more than 7 million viewers over the viewership for the president's July 22nd primetime news conference on health care.
But it's 38.6 percent fewer viewers than the 52 million who tuned in for the president's first address to a joint session of Congress, on February 24th.
Fox was the only major network not to show the speech, opting instead to show "So You Think You Can Dance," which garnered 6.5 million viewers, down from the 8.3 million it got in its season premiere in May. It was the third time the network has chosen not to air one of the president's primetime addresses. (Fox News did carry the address.)
In a Thursday speech, the president reiterated the main points from the primetime address, joking that he was doing so "just in case folks weren't tuned in last night — if they were watching 'So You Think You Can Dance.'" He noted that it's "a show Michelle likes."
Full CBSNews.com coverage of the president's speech on health care:
Obama Tells Congress to Stop Bickering
Full Video Full Transcript Speech Highlights
GOP Response: "It's Time to Start Over"
Marc Ambinder: Will Obama's Sales Job Work?
Mark Knoller: Obama Willing to Compromise - Up to a Point
Was Obama Clear on the Public Option?
Ted Kennedy's Letter to Obama
Rep. Wilson Apologizes for Obama Speech Outburst
Analysis: The Road Ahead for Health Care