Jon Stewart's New Talk Show Is Reportedly a 'Flop'

It's down 78% in viewership from series premiere
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2022 2:32 AM CDT
Updated Apr 19, 2022 6:52 AM CDT
Jon Stewart's New Talk Show Is Reportedly a 'Flop'
Entertainer and activist Jon Stewart speaks at a press conference on the PACT Act to benefit burn pit victims on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

The problem with Jon Stewart's The Problem With Jon Stewart is, apparently, a lack of viewers. A new Bloomberg report refers to it as the latest in a long line of "streaming talk show flops," noting that while 180,000 households watched the premiere episode within a week of its September debut on Apple TV+, the fifth episode, which aired in March, was viewed in just 40,000 homes. Chelsea Handler, Michelle Wolf, Norm Macdonald, Joel McHale, and Sarah Silverman all had similar struggles when they tried to bring a traditional talk show format to various streaming services, and Bloomberg hypothesizes the issue could be that people are used to watching streaming shows long after they debut, meaning the current-event jokes often used on talk shows don't work as well on a streaming platform.

Bloomberg also points out the sporadic nature of Stewart's show could be an issue; while issues were initially released every two weeks, Stewart then took a four-month hiatus before returning in March with a new show each week. And there are multiple other issues, from the need for a streaming show to appeal to a global audience, to the fact that streaming services can't build programming that naturally leads people to stay on and watch the late-night talk show, to the limited number of Apple TV+ subscribers. (Talk shows on broadcast or cable networks do much better; witness John Oliver's HBO talk show, a March episode of which was seen in 844,000 US homes.) The streaming service, however, doesn't seem disappointed; a rep says it is "thrilled" to host Stewart's show (which sources say is the service's top unscripted series) "for season two and beyond."

The Bloomberg report, not surprisingly, led to gleeful reactions from some on the right; the Fox News headline refers to the show as a "super-woke" "flop." Among those on Twitter ribbing the show was Andrew Sullivan, who was a guest last month and sparred with Stewart over race issues. As Mediaite explains, the writer accused Stewart of "anti-white extremism," and the feud spilled over onto social media. Stewart also had a bit of a disagreement when Cory Booker was a guest; the senator corrected Stewart when the host blamed "white resentment" for getting legislation aimed at helping Black farmers blocked. "No, no," Booker responded, per Fox News. "When you say white farmers, if I'm a white farmer listening to this in Iowa I'm thinking to myself, 'Jon Stewart's calling me—Jon Stewart's blaming me for stopping Booker's legislation.' That's not true." (More Jon Stewart stories.)

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