8:29am PT by Michael O'Connell
TV Ratings: Will Ferrell Brings Season Highs to 'SNL'
NBC's Saturday Night Live often benefits the most when visited by past castmembers, and this weekend's outing proved no exception.
Will Ferrell's Jan. 27 return to Studio 8H gave SNL its best overnight ratings of the season. The episode, which also featured musical guest Chris Stapleton, averaged a 4.9 overnight rating among households. That's up 14 percent from the previous week's episode and a slight improvement from the season-high that Larry David brought back in November.
The latest episode also averaged a 2.6 rating among adults 18-49 in the local people meters, another high since SNL wrapped its historic 2016-17 season. Across the board, the Ferrell-hosted installment ranks as the highest-performing since May 2017, when Dwayne Johnson hosted the finale.
Former SNL castmembers often bring big lifts to the show when they return to host. Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon and Tracy Morgan have all generated high ratings upon returning to the program. Ferrell, among the series' most storied alums, toplined the cast from 1995-2002. In the 15 years since he departed the show, he has hosted four times.
Season-to-date, SNL is averaging a 2.9 rating among adults 18-49 and 9.7 million viewers once live-plus-7 Nielsen returns are tallied. That's not far off from where the show was performing during last year's record-setting season.