The episode is only eclipsed by his Election Eve visit from President Obama in 2008.
Jon Stewart capped off his impressive Daily Show run Thursday night with a near-record 3.5 million viewers.
That leaves it just shy of the 3.6 million-viewer record set with a visit from then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama on the eve of the 2008 election — and considering how much more common DVR use is today, that number will likely be eclipsed after the first round of time-shifting. The episode has already added one million full-episode streams online.
Among adults 18-49, Stewart averaged 1.8 million viewers.
The December swan song for Stewart's former time slot neighbor, Stephen Colbert, brought a record 2.5 million same-day viewers to that telecast — though Colbert was merely getting ready to migrate to CBS, not retiring from late-night completely.
It shouldn't be underestimated what The Daily Show has meant to Comedy Central under Stewart's stewardship. His audience has skewed younger than anyone else's in the late-night game, not to mention they skew wealthy and educated.
The Daily Show will go on a break now, with 31-year-old Trevor Noah taking the host gig when it returns on Sept. 28.
Thursday was a big night for political junkies. In addition to Stewart's exit, the first GOP debate drew a record 24 million viewers to Fox News Channel.