Comedy Central’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” has finally picked up some ratings momentum heading into Thursday’s finale, with its Monday and Tuesday telecasts ranking among the calendar year’s three most-watched telecasts.
Monday’s “Daily Show,” featuring Amy Schumer, averaged 1.712 million viewers, according to Nielsen national estimates, the largest same-night audience for any installment of the program since last December (2.032 million). And its 0.58 rating in adults 18-49 was the highest since Feb. 23 (0.61).
Schumer, a comedian with her own Comedy Central series, got serious with Stewart when discussing the July 23 shooting at a movie theater in Louisiana during a screening of her new movie “Trainwreck.” “I was like, legit heartbroken,” she said. “To hear that news, it broke my heart. … It was so horrible.
“The second this happened, you want to act,” she said. “I wanted to go down there and do whatever I could.”
On Tuesday night, with Denis Leary as a guest for the 17th time, “Daily Show” averaged 1.58 million viewers (the third largest audience of 2015) and a 0.57 rating in adults 18-49. Leary told Stewart it wasn’t too later to change his mind about retiring from the show, before conceding that “from the heart … the decision you made was right. You’re retiring at the top of your game.”
With the exception of President Obama’s final visit to the show two weeks ago, “Daily Show” hadn’t seen any real movement of the ratings needle down the homestretch. That July 21 episode, in which Obama joked with Stewart that he would issue an executive order to prevent him from leaving the show, drew 1.514 million viewers — a five-month high for the program in Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” estimates.
The top-rated episode of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” remains Obama’s fourth visit to the show in late October 2008, just a few days before his first presidential election. It did a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 3.577 million viewers overall.
More than most programs that air multiple times throughout the week, “Daily Show” sees meaningful ratings increases in DVR playback in the days following a telecast. For the week beginning July 20, for example, its average same-night viewership of 1.36 million surged by 64% to 2.22 million in “live plus-3,” which incorporates three days’ worth of time-shifted viewing. And in the 18-49 demo, it spiked by 70% (0.46 rating to 0.78).
Stewart announced in February that he would be departing “The Daily Show” after 17 years as host, with Thursday’s finale to be expanded to about an hour. He will be replaced by comedian Trevor Noah, who recently spoke about the pressure he feels in taking over the institution.