TV Ratings: 'SNL' Approaches Finale With No. 2 Telecast of a Sterling Season

Melissa McCarthy Hiding as Sean Spicer SNL - H 2017 Screengrab

NBC continues to reap the benefits of Saturday Night Live's sterling year. The penultimate episode of the season, its third consecutive outing to air live on both coasts, already ranks as the No. 2 episode of the season.

Live tune-in surged for SNL, averaging 10.4 million viewers late Saturday night. That makes it the show's best since Alec Baldwin hosted in February and its best May episode since the storied Betty White special in 2010. Melissa McCarthy's latest turn as host bore equally ripe fruits in the younger demo of adults 18-49. Its tentative 2.7 rating in the key demo vastly outperforms almost any other live-plus-same-day showing from the Big Four in well over a month — tying the week's Big Bang Theory season finale.

Twenty episodes into season No. 42, SNL is averaging nearly 11 million viewers and a 3.5 rating among adults 18-49, once time-shifting is taken into account. Prior to this week, the nationwide live simulcast hadn't done much to pop ratings, but McCarthy, a fixture this season thanks to her impression of White House press secretary Sean Spicer, has cemented herself as one of the show's biggest recurring personalities.

Ratings momentum has not slowed in the wake of the election or the first 100 days of the Trump administration. The increasingly political SNL is up 71 percent compared to what it was doing in May of last year and nearly doubling its viewership.

SNL signs off next week, wrapping its most-watched season in 24 years with an appearance from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.