TV Ratings: 'Saturday Night Live' Gets Election Year Bump


Chris Rock hosting 'Saturday Night Live'

Saturday Night Live drew its biggest premiere audience in four years, benefiting from the show's usual election-year boosts. Other weekend shows, including the NBA Finals on ABC and Sunday Night Football on NBC, didn't fare as well, nor did the delayed season 10 finale of The Walking Dead on AMC.

The 46th season premiere of SNL, hosted by Chris Rock, drew 8.24 million viewers and a 1.8 rating among adults 18-49, leading all of Nielsen-rated television in primetime and late night. The show's total audience was the most for a season premiere since 2016 (8.3 million) and the second-largest since 2008. It brought in more viewers than all of last season's episodes save for the Eddie Murphy-hosted installment in December 2019.

Sunday's primetime wasn't as strong. Sunday Night Football delivered its smallest audience — 15.08 million viewers and a 4.5 in adults 18-49 — in almost a year, although it still cleared everything else in primetime by more than 4 million people.

Game three of the NBA Finals on ABC managed just 5.94 million viewers opposite NBC's NFL broadcast, the lowest since total viewers started being regularly recorded in the early 1990s. Through three games, the Finals' average of 6.65 million viewers is well behind the previous all-time low average of 9.29 million in 2007.

CBS' 60 Minutes got a boost from the network's afternoon NFL coverage, with its 10.76 million viewers making it the most watched non-sports program of the week. Fox's animated block, however, suffered without a late NFL game; The Simpsons, with 1.51 million viewers, drew the biggest audience of the four shows (all of which will get substantial gains via streaming).

On cable Sunday, the season 10 finale of The Walking Dead — delayed almost six months because of pandemic-related production shutdowns — averaged 2.73 million viewers and a 0.9 in the 18-49 demo, making it the lowest-rated finale in the show's history. The premiere of The Walking Dead: World Beyond drew 1.6 million viewers and a 0.5 in the demo for its first airing.

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