There’s a problem with The Problem With Jon Stewart, which won’t be returning for a third season because of its handling of controversial topics, and there's industry speculation that Apple doesn’t want Stewart angering the Chinese market.
Some big shakeup news in the streaming TV industry, as the New York Times broke the news that Jon Stewart’s AppleTV+ show The Problem With Jon Stewart is ending, just as production was to start on its third season. That report notes that “Mr. Stewart and Apple executives decided to part ways,” which makes it sound mutual, and uses the old tried-and-true explanation of “creative differences.”
The news has not been confirmed by Apple or Stewart’s camp, but the Times cites “several people with knowledge of the decision.” And those sources said that Apple executives were not pleased with Stewart’s approach to covering AI and China in the upcoming season, leading to friction between the TV star and the corporate suits.
Several other publications have also picked up the news, none really with any official confirmation or additional detailed information. But CNN’s report makes an excellent point — that China is a major market for Apple, and Apple may be determined to not run a segment critical of China on one of its platforms.
Per CNN’s numbers, the Chinese market now accounts for “nearly a fifth of Apple’s sales” globally. But the Chinese economy is lagging right now, and CNN also cites its own report that iPhone 15 sales in China are sluggish compared to iPhone 14 sales at the same point last year. The smartphone competition is fiercer in China with more brands, and Apple is keen to not lose market share.
But if you don’t want acerbic takedowns of the rich and powerful, why did you hire Jon Stewart?
People may forget that Jon Stewart did not start his old powerhouse Comedy Central series, The Daily Show. Some guy named Craig Kilborn hosted the show from 1996 to 1998. But Stewart took over in 1999, and made the show the trailblazer that it was until 2015, when Trevor Noah took the anchor’s seat. So there was a pretty large body of work to know how Stewart would approach a show he hosted.
It’s unclear what will happen with the companion The Problem With Jon Stewart podcast, which is also hosted on an Apple platform.