Jon Stewart farewell watched by 3.5 million, below show record

Jon Stewart exits the studio following the final taping of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
Jon Stewart exits the studio following the final taping of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Some 3.5 million people watched Jon Stewart's farewell from The Daily Show, Comedy Central said on Friday, more than double the regular audience but below the record viewership for the US satirical news series set in 2008 by then Senator Barack Obama.

Comedy Central said Thursday's final bow by Stewart had been streamed an additional one million times, and that there were 233,400 Tweets about the show on Thursday night.

The audience for Stewart's last show was just short of the 3.6 million people who watched Obama's appearance on The Daily Show in October 2008, just days ahead of his election to the US presidency.

Stewart's audience on Thursday was dwarfed by the 24 million viewers who tuned in earlier in the evening to watch a debate by the leading Republican Party candidates for the 2016 presidential election on Fox News Channel.

Comedy Central is owned by Viacom.

Rock legend Bruce Springsteen and comedians Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell were among the friends who turned up to send Stewart on his way with a final dance party after 16 years of political and media satire that resonated well beyond the show's small regular audience.

Stewart's 'frenemies' - the targets of some of his most scathing commentary - including Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, and Republican Senator John McCain, sent in video contributions in an emotional send-off that was relatively free of the usual political satire.

Stewart, 52, who has not said what he plans to do next, signed off the extended Thursday show by assuring fans that he was "merely taking a small pause in the conversation."

"Rather than saying goodbye, or goodnight, I'm just going to say I'm gonna' go get a drink," he said.

South African comedian Trevor Noah, 31, who joined The Daily Show as a contributor in late 2014, will take over as host in late September.