Eddie Murphy Gives 'SNL' Its Best Ratings in Two Years

Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle SNL — Publicity — H 2019
Will Heath/NBC

Eddie Murphy's return to NBC's Saturday Night Live may have brought laughs, the revival of iconic characters and a few censored moments, but he also delivered in the ratings, as the show drew its biggest numbers in two-and-a-half years. 

The Dec. 21 episode of the variety sketch series, with host Murphy and musical guest Lizzo, averaged a 2.5 rating in adults 18-49 and 9.921 million viewers overall, according to live-plus-same-day "fast official" ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

The installment — which also featured the appearance of stars Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan, Dave Chappelle and more — currently ranks as the highest-scoring and most-viewed episode of SNL since May 2017. That show, hosted by Melissa McCarthy with musical guest HAIM, averaged a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49 and attracted 10.382 million viewers overall.

The 2.5 rating in 18-49 ties Fox’s The Masked Singer season premiere on Sept. 25 in same-day ratings as the No. 1 highest-rated entertainment series telecast this season on any network across all dayparts. The latest SNL episode is also now the highest-rated comedy telecast on any network since CBS' The Big Bang Theory series finale on May 16 (3.2).

Season averages for SNL increased by 98 percent in 18-49 (2.48 vs.1.25) and 68 percent in total viewers (9.921 million vs. 5.916 million).

To date, the Sept. 28 season premiere has increased by 186 percent in 18-49 rating with digital and linear delayed viewing, rising from a 1.33 to a 3.81, and by 5.8 million viewers from 6.1 million to 11.9 million in total viewers.

Through the course of the series' last season, SNL has officially reached more than 89 million viewers.

Nielsen Media Research reports that approximately 29 percent of SNL’s total viewed minutes during the 2018-19 season came on digital platforms through full-episode views and shortform videos. The Dec. 14 episode, featuring host Scarlett Johansson and musical guest Niall Horan, has generated 30.4 million views on YouTube since its release last week, resulting in the installment to be currently ranked as the season’s No. 2 most-viewed SNL episode on YouTube.