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Jon Stewart's 'Restore Sanity' rally drew 2 million viewers to their TV sets

November 1, 2010 |  4:40 pm

Comedy Central's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" on Saturday may have drawn 250,000 or more to the streets of Washington. But maybe pretty much everyone who wanted to see it actually went? Back home, it was no ratings landslide.

A total of 2 million viewers tuned in to the live event, which aired from 9 a.m. to noon Los Angeles time and was led by "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart and his compatriot Stephen Colbert of "The Colbert Report." The rally scored a 1.0 rating among viewers aged 18 to 49, according to the Nielsen Co.

Those are strong numbers for a basic cable network during a midday Saturday before Halloween, to be sure. The network said viewership was up 362% compared with usual totals in the (typically very sleepy) weekend time slot.

Comedy Central said there were also more than half a million live streams online of the event.

On the other hand, college football games that air on Saturdays routinely draw several times those numbers. On weekday nights, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly -- one of the cable hosts Stewart seemed to attack in his remarks -- draws upward of 3 million viewers. (Complete ratings for Saturday will not be available until Tuesday).

A listings glitch might have depressed viewing too. Some cable subscribers reported trying to record the rally on DVRs and getting "Scrubs" reruns instead. Apparently, those customers had DVRs that did not adjust for the time difference given that the program aired live across the country. A Comedy Central spokesman said the network verified that it had in fact given the correct information to the listings services that supply information to cable operators.

-- Scott Collins (Twitter: @scottcollinsLAT)

Photo: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert at Saturday's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" (Olivier Douliery/MCT)


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