NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” closed out the year on a strong note, with Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Bruce Springsteen combining to produce the show’s second highest overnight rating of the past 22 months. Meanwhile in primetime, ABC was the winner with its coverage of the Democratic debate from New Hampshire, but it logged the lowest numbers of this election cycle.
Looking at the Nielsens for Saturday, “Saturday Night Live averaged a 5.1 overnight household rating/13 share — trailing this season only the 6.6/16 registered by the Nov. 7 telecast featuring Donald Trump as host. And this is also the second best for “SNL” since February 2014, when host Melissa McCarthy produced a 5.4/13 in the overnights.
Similarly in adults 18-49, last night’s 2.6 rating in the 25 markets with local people meters was the second best of the fall — but only a tick behind the 2.7 for the Trump-hosted show — and is the second best since the night McCarthy hosted early in 2014 (2.9). The third highest demo overnight rating this television season came Nov. 21 (2.3) when Matthew McConaughey hosted and Adele was the musical guest.
On average this season, “Saturday Night Live” has grown by 49% in adults 18-49 rating (1.87 to 2.78) and by 34% in total viewers (6.4 million to 8.6 million) when going from Nielsen’s “live plus same-day” averages to “live plus-7.”
Reliable total-viewer estimates weren’t available for the Democratic debate from New Hampshire, but the three-hour event averaged a 5.6 household rating/10 share in the overnights as well as a 1.1 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.6 million viewers overall on ABC’s stations from 8 to 11. Once all West Coast viewing is accurately included, last night’s viewership should exceed 7 million but will fall short of the 8.55 million that a Democratic debate attracted on CBS last month (also on a Saturday).
The first Democratic debates of the 2016 presidential cycle drew a strong 15.79 million viewers on CNN in October, but viewership has fallen off with the subsequent two such events, which were scheduled on the lightest-watched night of the week. The fifth Republican debate of this cycle, held last Tuesday on CNN, drew more than 18 million viewers.