January 19, 2014 11:17am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: 'Saturday Night Live' Returns Strong With Sasheer Zamata Debut
They aren't Jimmy Fallon numbers, but those are hard to come by. The Jan. 18 episode of Saturday Night Live, the first with new cast member Sasheer Zamata, saw stronger than typical ratings for the NBC series -- though they were obviously down sharply from the recent season-best featuring the Late Night host and his pal Justin Timberlake.
Host and musical guest Drake saw his episode average a 2.7 rating among adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with Local People Meters. The top Big Four telecast of the night in the key demo, it also outperformed recent episodes starring John Goodman (2.1 adults) and Paul Rudd (2.5 adults).
VIDEO: Drake Welcomes New Castmember Sasheer Zamata
Among households, Saturday Night Live was also up from Goodman with a 4.7 rating. It fell shy of Rudd's overnight score of a 4.9 rating.
Fallon and Timberlake catapulted Saturday Night Live to a two-year high on Dec. 21, with overnights averaging a 6.3 households rating and a 3.9 in the key demo.
Zamata's addition to the cast came after months of criticism for the absence of an African American female on the iconic sketch show. She is the first since Maya Rudolph departed five years ago.
Saturday Night Live is new again on Jan. 25 with host Jonah Hill and musical guest Bastille.