Trevor Noah Daily Show debut
Courtesy of Comedy Central

If you were watching television past primetime last night, there’s a good chance you stumbled upon Trevor Noah’s debut as host of “The Daily Show” — and that’s exactly what Viacom wanted.

The 31-year-old South African comedian’s first night averaged 3.475 million viewers across 12 Viacom channels monitored by Nielsen. This is virtually identical to Jon Stewart’s final night on Aug. 6 (3.471 million), which was his second largest same-night audience ever.

On Comedy Central alone, last night’s premiere averaged 1.086 million viewers, including 561,000 adults 18-49 (0.44 rating). “Daily Show” also drew 558,000 viewers on Nick at Nite; 534,000 on VH1; 360,000 on TV Land; 299,000 on BET; 293,000 on Spike; 116,000 on MTV; 74,000 on MTV2; 45,000 on CMT, 44,000 on Centric (44,000); and 33,000 on Logo and VH1 Classic.

According to Comedy Central, roughly 7.3 million people watched at least of “Daily Show” on Monday. The network also pointed out the show’s younger skew, as its average median age across networks was 41.

Cable congloms have done similar roadblock programming in the past, including Viacom itself last month for the “MTV Video Music Awards.” The strategy helps bring more attention to an event by corralling the resources of the disparate channels under its umbrella while at the same time lowering expectations for viewership on the primary channel.

Of course, Noah will be airing on Comedy Central only going forward, so any comparisons to its premiere night will be misleading. It will take a while to get a handle on his ratings strength.

Stewart didn’t move above the 1-million viewer mark until 17 months into his run (December 1997), though his popularity over the years has certainly raised the ratings bar for the program. Prior to its finale, “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” was averaging 1.22 million viewers (and a 0.43 rating in adults 18-49) for the summer.

Noah’s debut as “Daily Show” host comes at a time of transition in late-night television. David Letterman exited CBS’ “Late Show” and was replaced by Stephen Colbert, while Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, James Corden and Larry Wilmore have all been in their posts for two years or less.

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