“Saturday Night Live” capped a red-hot season on Saturday with its most-watched final episode since 2011.
The show, hosted by Dwayne Johnson with musical guest Katy Perry, averaged 8.3 million viewers and a 2.3 rating in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to Nielsen’s live-same-day ratings. The closer featured guest appearances by Alec Baldwin as President Trump, Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks. NBC noted that the live rating in 18-49 makes “SNL” the No. 1 entertainment telecast of the week, edging past Fox’s “Empire.”
Season 42 of “SNL” ranks as the NBC mainstay’s most-watched season in 23 years. Peak viewership of this season’s 20 episodes came on Feb. 11 with Alec Baldwin as host and Ed Sheeran as musical guest. That seg grabbed 10.8 million viewers.
“SNL” was clearly buoyed by viewer interest in the 2016 presidential election and the onset of the Trump administration. Baldwin has been a semi-regular on the show this year in the guise of President Trump. Melissa McCarthy, who hosted last week’s installment, has drawn raves for her no-holds-barred portrayal of White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
For the season, “SNL” is averaging 10.9 million viewers and 3.5 in adults 18-49 in Nielsen’s live-plus-7 ratings, its highest season average since 1993-94.
Compared to last May, “SNL” viewership is up 58% in total viewers (8.3 million vs. 5.2 million) and up 45% in adults 18-49 (2.3 vs. 1.6). The finale ratings are likely to grow by double digits with delayed viewing factored in.
For its final four episodes, NBC experimented with airing the show live in all time zones, in an effort to capitalize on its heat and make it event viewing at the same time coast-to-coast.
The 2011 season closer, hosted by Justin Timberlake with musical guest Lady Gaga, brought in 9.8 million viewers.