Season finale draws largest May sweep auds since '94

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” has wrapped its 25th anniversary season in style, delivering its largest May sweep auds since 1994 and highest marks in any sweep since February 1998.

Its season finale on May 20, hosted by Jackie Chan and featuring musical guest Kid Rock, drew 9.4 million viewers and an adults 18-49 rating of 4.9/21, according to Nielsen. These numbers rep gains of 13% and 11%, respectively, over last year’s finale, featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar and the Backstreet Boys.

For the sweep, “SNL” averaged 8.5 million viewers (up 11% from last year) and a 4.5/19 in young adults (also up 11%). The late surge has helped the show finish with more viewers on a weekly basis than a year ago (8.0 million vs. 7.9 million).

In the weeknight wars, NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” (6.0 million, 2.6 in A18-49) topped CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” (4.2 million, 1.7 in A18-49). Tom Cruise’s first visit on “Tonight” in eight years delivered the show’s largest aud (7.4 million) and demo score (3.3) since December.

In viewers, “Letterman” was up 13% vs. a year ago (4.2 million from 3.8 million), while “Leno” was up by 5%.

ABC’s block of “Nightline” and “Politically Incorrect” (4.0 million, 1.5 in A18-49) finished third.

And even later, NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” topped CBS’ “Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn” in total viewers (2.5 million vs. 1.5 million); “Kilborn” was up 15% vs. a year ago and “O’Brien” 6%. In adults 18-49, both shows were up a tick, “O’Brien” to 1.3 and “Kilborn” to 0.7.

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