Tracy Morgan’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ Return Boosts Ratings

Tracy Morgan’s return to “Saturday Night Live” lifted ratings for the latenight show, which was up week-to-week and matched its top overnight demo score since last winter.

According to Nielsen metered-market overnights, “SNL” averaged a 2.0 rating/10 share in adults 18-49 and a 4.2 household rating/11 share. It was up in both categories from the previous week’s 1.9/9 in the demo and 3.9/10 in households for Amy Schumer’s first turn as host.

Compared to its October 2014 average, “Saturday Night Live” was up 8% in overnight household rating (from 3.9) and even in adults 18-49. The show hasn’t done a higher 18-49 overnight rating since the Jan. 31 show hosted by J.K. Simmons.

Morgan, a former “SNL” cast member for seven seasons and a co-star on NBC’s “30 Rock,” was hosting the show for the second time. His return to Studio 8H in Rockefeller Center came 16 months after a severe car crash left him in critical condition. He made a surprise appearance at the Primetime Emmy Awards last month, presenting the award for best drama.

And Morgan didn’t shy away from making jokes at his own expense. “People said, ‘Can he speak?’ Is he at 100% mental capacity? The truth is I never did. I might be a couple of points higher now,” the comedian said.

Morgan opened the show with a heartfelt thank-you to fans and colleagues who helped him through his long recovery from broken bones and a brain injury. “I’m back,” he said. “It feels so good to be here.” And several surprise guests appeared on the show to support him.

Last night’s “SNL” started about 15 minutes late in the East and Midwest due to late-running college football action on the network. Notre Dame’s 41-31 victory over USC averaged a 2.89 overnight household rating from 7:30-11:15 p.m. ET, which tops the overnight for the previous two matchups between the rivals on NBC in 2011 and 2013.

Earlier, ESPN scored big with its coverage of the Michigan State-Michigan contest, which was decided on the game’s final play. The Spartans’ victory averaged a 5.1 overnight household rating (peaking with a 7.2 during the final 15 minutes, 7:15-7:30 p.m. ET) — the highest college football rating for any game on the day and the largest ever for an October game on the network. Its 28.3 overnight rating in Detroit was also the highest ever in the market for a regular-season college football game on ESPN.

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