‘The Problem With Jon Stewart’ Has a Problem — With Ratings

The Apple TV+ talk show has seen a dramatic viewership drop since its September debut

The Problem With Jon Stewart
"The Problem With Jon Stewart" (Credit: Apple TV+)

“The Problem With Jon Stewart” was the No. 1 unscripted series on Apple TV+ in October, a month after its debut, according to EW. But ever since, it has proved no match for its broadcast and cable TV competition and has been purging viewers.

The talk show had 180,000 homes tuning in its first week, Samba TV reported, but that number dropped 78% a mere 40,000 by its fifth episode. “Last Week Tonight With John Oliver,” meanwhile, drew 844,000 U.S. homes that same week, according to Samba TV.

While Apple has not shared viewership statistics for the talk show, Molly Thompson, head of unscripted and documentaries at Apple TV+ told Bloomberg. “We are thrilled that ‘The Problem with Jon Stewart’ has resonated with viewers all over the world. The series has sparked complex conversations about critical issues, and we’re proud to team with Jon for season two and beyond.”

According to Parrot Analytics, Stewart’s program is the eighth most in-demand talk show in the U.S., ahead of “The Late Late Show with James Corden” and Ellen DeGeneres’ soon-to-end talk show, but lags behind Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah.

Other streaming talk shows, including offerings from Chelsea Handler, Michelle Wolf, the late Norm Macdonald, Joel McHale and Sarah Silverman, have also struggled to find viewers, Bloomberg reports.

The sporadic schedule for “The Problem With Jon Stewart” hasn’t helped. Episodes originally dropped two weeks apart, then Stewart took four months off. When he returned in March, episodes switched to a weekly model.

Apple is admittedly a much smaller platform than Comedy Central, where Stewart hosted “The Daily Show” for 16 years. Cable has a base of about 70 million subscribers, while Apple’s is estimated to be only 12 million, per research firm MoffettNathanson.

“There’s no doubt Jon Stewart made much more of a splash in public discourse 20 years ago than he’s making today,” Stephen Farnsworth, co-author of a book about late-night TV shows during the Trump era, told Bloomberg.

From the get-go, Stewart joked about his much smaller audience at the streamer, saying, “Thank you for watching but my guess is you didn’t” in the premiere. “You’re probably just going to look at aggregated clips of it somewhere, on YouTube, where you pirate ‘ Ted Lasso.’ You don’t even know how to get Apple TV, do you?” he quipped.

Apple did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.