How Trevor Noah’s ‘Daily Show’ Is Beating Jon Stewart’s

New host’s first month of Nielsen ratings are down from his predecessor’s last, but he’s drawing a younger, more digital audience

Trevor Noah Jon Stewart

One month down, about 187 more to go — that is, if new “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah hopes to catch up to predecessor Jon Stewart‘s incredible tenure.

So far, so good, according to Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless. “I couldn’t be happier,” she told TheWrap, adding that the new guy offers “a more global … millennial perspective.”

And Noah’s predecessor agrees. “He’s like a proud papa,” Ganeless said, summing up her recent conversation with the former host, who remains on-board with the switch from afar.

“We made the absolute right choice,” Ganeless said of Noah. “The show needed to evolve.”

Where the show is going is younger and toward nonlinear platforms. These days, more than 40 percent of “The Daily Show” content is consumed via digital platforms, versus the 30 percent Stewart saw before the shift. That leap is even more than Ganeless had anticipated, she admitted in our interview.

Of course, internal metrics don’t quite make their way over to Nielsen, an unfortunate reality for the cable channel.

Across Noah’s first four weeks, “The Daily Show” is down 32 percent in the coveted 18-49 demographic and down 37 percent among total viewers compared to Stewart’s final quarter (minus his last week). That’s anything but insignificant.

While Noah has been no Stewart as far as Nielsen is concerned, there are bright spots even per those possibly antiquated measurements.

Noah’s first four weeks delivered double-digit growth (up 20 percent) among adults 18-24 versus the final quarter of Stewart’s run. Filtering that further to just men of that age range, “The Daily Show” is up 32 percent. Those numbers are particularly impressive considering the diminishing TV viewing habits of the youngest adult demo.

While any advertiser or TV programmer would take the demo with the 25 extra years of range and purchasing power, Comedy Central swears by its millenials-first target as a way to break through all that other late-night noise.

Plus, those scary-looking losses also don’t automatically mean the Noah version is reaching fewer eyeballs or has less advertiser potential. This “Daily Show” has averaged 3 million full episode starts per week off-TV, with 750,000 of those consumers seeing episodes through until the very end.

Clearly, viewing for this vehicle is trending away from the 11 p.m. living room experience. Chromecast, Facebook and Xbox streams are all on the rise, and Android episode starts — up 44 percent — are outpacing those platforms. YouTube views have seen the same percentage rise versus an average Stewart week — and the still-evolving Snapchat’s 71 percent growth blows them all away in terms of rate.

The South African comic has also shifted linear viewership younger: two years on a median basis, to be exact. And the new users are diverse, much like their mixed-race, foreign host. More than a quarter of Noah’s adults 18-34 audience is African-American or Hispanic.

Plus, Noah is a hit on Twitter, doubling Stewart’s weekly mentions. It’s the third-place late-night show on the social media platform, behind “The Tonight Show” and “@midnight.”

“We set up an ecosystem to serve millenials,” Ganeless summed up her big gamble. “Trevor came along at the perfect time to take advantage of that.”