‘Saturday Night Live’ Premiere Ratings: Up in Households, Down Slightly in Demo

NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” with host Miley Cyrus and a visit by Hillary Clinton, kicked off its 41st season with solid but unspectacular ratings.

In Nielsen’s metered-market overnights, Saturday’s season opener averaged a 4.5 household rating/11 share — up 13% vs. the year-ago premiere (4.0/10) featuring Chris Pratt and musical guest Ariana Grande. The 4.5 is the highest overnight for “SNL” since Jan. 24 (a 4.7 with Blake Shelton as host and musical guest).

Total-viewer estimates won’t be available until later this week, but last night’s opener figures to have drawn a larger overall crowd than last year’s premiere, which averaged 5.56 million. In adults 18-49, last night’s 2.0 overnight rating was down a tick from last year, but matches the show’s highest score in its final eight originals last season.

Though a primetime 40th anniversary special of “SNL” drew huge ratings for NBC in February , the show didn’t have a great 2014-15 ratings season in its regular slot. There’s hope, though, that a politically charged climate and buzzworthy guest hosts like Tracy Morgan and Amy Schumer can help reinvigorate the late-night institution.

Last season’s regular-timeslot peak came in November, when Chris Rock and musical guest Prince delivered a 4.9 household rating and a 2.4 demo rating in the overnights. That translated into 7.44 million total viewers in the nationals.

“SNL” adds significant viewership via time-shifting, with originals last season growing by an average of 44% in adults 18-49 rating when going from “live plus same-day” to “live plus-7” (1.84 to 2.65).

Last night’s opener, hosted by Miley Cyrus, featured a cameo by Hillary Clinton, with the Democratic presidential hopeful playing a bartender named “Val” opposite Kate McKinnon as Clinton. The premiere also featured a cold opening with cast member Taran Killam as Donald Trump, sitting alongside Cecily Strong as Trump’s wife, Melania.

In other ratings news, delayed viewing numbers for the second Tuesday of the television season revealed Fox’s “Scream Queens,” ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and CBS’ “Limitless” as the biggest gainers in 18-49. “Limitless” went from a 1.94 same-day demo rating to a 2.78 in “live plus-3” (up 0.85), meaning it overtook ABC’s “The Muppets” as the night’s No. 1 new program. Exhibiting a strong week-to-week hold, in L3 it ended up down a tenth in 18-49 (2.8 vs. 2.9) and within 5% of its premiere total-viewer count (12.76 million vs. 13.37 million).

“Limitless” edged out the network’s “NCIS” as the largest gainer in total viewers, rising 3.03 million (from 9.73 million to 12.76 million). The veteran remained Tuesday’s most-watched program overall, rising 2.97 million in L3 to 19.49 million viewers.

At ABC, the season premier of “Agents of SHIELD” grew 0.85 in 18-49 (1.72 to 2.57) to surge ahead of CBS’ “NCIS: New Orleans” (2.22) after the shows had tied with a 1.7 rating in same-night numbers. Compared with last year’s premiere, “SHIELD” was even in 18-49 (2.6) and up a bit in total viewers (7.01 million vs. 6.94 million). Leading off the night for ABC, “The Muppets” came down 31% in L+3 (2.60 vs. 3.77) but lead-out “Fresh Off the Boat” limited its decline to 12% (2.19 vs. 2.50).

Week-to-week, NBC’s “The Voice” was the only program to improve its L+3 rating in adults 18-49. Though it added a modest 0.26 to its same-day total, the music competition series ended up with a 4% gain from its premiere (4.33 vs. 4.16). “Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris,” which benefits from airing behind a strong show in live ratings like “The Voice,” grew just 0.26 in L+3 (to 2.15 rating), leaving it down 13% week to week (from 2.47).

Viewers clearly seem to see Fox’s new Tuesday comedy tandem of “Grandfathered” and “The Grinder” as a package deal. Not only did the shows do the same 1.5 rating in adults 18-49 in “live plus same-day,” but they also each picked up 0.48 ratings points in L+3.

The net’s “Scream Queens” grew 0.90 ratings in 18-49 from “same-day” (to 1.4) to “L3” (2.3), leaving it down 0.4 from its week-earlier two-hour premiere (2.7). It was also down about 1 million total viewers (5.2 million vs. 6 million).

 

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