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Trump says his State of the Union viewership was the highest ever. The ratings say otherwise.

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 30, 2018. (Gabriella Demczuk/Copyright 2018 The New York Times)

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Thursday boasted that the viewership of his State of the Union speech was "the highest number in history" - a claim at odds with ratings figures released the day before.

In a morning tweet, Trump thanked supporters "for all the nice compliments and reviews" of his address and said 45.6 million people had watched on Tuesday.

That number matched a figure released by Nielsen based on viewership on 12 broadcast networks and cable channels.

But it was smaller than those who watched Trump's address to a joint session of Congress last year (48 million) and smaller than those who watched former President Obama's first State of the Union address in 2010 (48 million) and smaller than those who watched Obama's joint session speech in 2009 (52 million).

The Nielsen numbers do not include data on streaming, which has significantly grown in popularity in recent years. But the figure Trump cites for Tuesday's viewership does not include streaming data, which is difficult to measure.

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to a request to explain the president's claim.

Trump's claim was reminiscent of the first full day of his administration, when he dispatched White House press secretary Sean Spicer to admonish the media for reporting that Trump's inauguration crowd was smaller than other recent inauguration crowds.

"This is the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration - period - both in person and around the globe," Spicer told reporters.