Jon Stewart’s new show on AppleTV+ would be a flop

Jon Stewart is struggling to gain traction on his new talk show, according to a report.

“The Trouble with Jon Stewart,” which premiered on AppleTV+ in September, appears to be a flop, as it trails far behind its competitors on broadcast and cable TV, according to Bloomberg.

The show’s first episode was viewed by just 180,000 US households in the first week of its launch last fall, measurement firm Samba TV said. That number fell 78% to 40,000 during its fifth episode, which aired in early March.

Stewart’s comedic rival John Oliver, meanwhile, captured the attention of 844,000 American households for a March episode of his HBO show, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Samba TV reported.

Stewart declined to comment, but on air he made his thoughts on the numbers clear.

“Thanks for watching, but I guess you didn’t,” he said at the end of his show’s first episode. “You’re probably just going to watch some aggregated clips somewhere on YouTube where you hack ‘Ted Lasso.’ You don’t even know how to get Apple TV, do you?”

Jon Stewart
A bar chart that shows Jon Stewart's show lagging behind in social media mentions behind Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert and John Oliver.
Research from Tubular Labs shows that social media viewership for Jon Stewart’s new show is lagging behind the competition.
Tubular laboratories

Apple didn’t release any viewership numbers, but Entertainment Weekly magazine said the show was the No. 1 unscripted series on Apple TV+, citing “sources.”

Bloomberg cited research from Parrot Analytics that Stewart’s show is the eighth most popular show in the United States, ahead of shows hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and James Corden and behind shows hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and his “Daily Show” replacement, Trevor Noah.

“We’re thrilled that ‘The Trouble with Jon Stewart’ has resonated with viewers around the world,” Molly Thompson, head of documentaries and unscripted at Apple TV+, told Bloomberg. “The series sparked complex conversations about critical issues, and we’re proud to team up with Jon for season two and beyond.”

Jon Stewart interviewing SEC Chairman Gary Gensler.
Jon Stewart interviewing SEC Chairman Gary Gensler on his new AppleTV+ show, “The Trouble With Jon Stewart.”

As host of “The Daily Show” for 16 years, Stewart became a hugely influential voice in social and political commentary. His last show, which aired in August 2015, drew 3.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen’s ratings. It was right after a 2008 episode in which Stewart interviewed the then-Senator. Barack Obama, shocked by 3.6 million viewers.

Now Stewart is trying to make a splash on a smaller platform that’s part of a cluttered streaming landscape filled with entertainment options. Netflix, HBO Max and Hulu all have talk shows hosted by comedians, from Bill Maher and Chelsea Handler to Joel McHale and Michelle Wolf.

The size of the viewership is also an obstacle for Stewart, who could reach a wider audience when he was on television. Today, approximately 70 million people still subscribe to cable television. Although Apple does not disclose the size of its overall audience of paying customers, research firm MoffettNathanson estimates it has 12 million subscribers.

Jon Stewart
Stewart’s “The Daily Show” drew 3.6 million viewers at its peak. The debut of his AppleTV+ show was seen by just 180,000 US households.

“There is no doubt that Jon Stewart made a lot more noise in public discourse 20 years ago than he does today,” said Stephen Farnsworth, co-author of a book on the shows late-night television news during the Trump era, to Bloomberg.

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