Votes are in: 'SNL' is the big winner

Election-year satire spurs major ratings jumps

NEW YORK -- "Saturday Night Live" is sure going to miss the presidential campaign.

The three-decade-old late-night sketch comedy series has gotten a new lease on life in recent months, thanks to its politically tinged commentary and walk-ons including Sarah Palin, Alec Baldwin, and Will Ferrell.

Last Saturday's episode averaged 9.3 million viewers and a 3.9 rating/15 share in adults 18-49, Nielsen Media Research said Thursday.

Add to that the startling success of "SNL" this season since it started its season early in 2007. The episode that featured Palin was the highest-rated "SNL" since 1994 and the premiere was the most-watched since 2001.

For the six episodes so far this season, "SNL" is averaging 9.8 million viewers and a 4.0/16 in adults 18-49. That's up 76% in viewers and 67% in the demo compared with the same point last year, albeit with only three original episodes.