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Per Nielsen’s overnight ratings of metered market households, the episode averaged a 6.6 rating. And while full viewership won’t be available until Monday, it will likely emerge as the show’s most-watched episode since Jan. 7, 2012.
For a regularly-scheduled SNL, that’s pretty remarkable. Season-to-date, SNL has been averaging a 4.4 overnight rating — though, like most TV shows, SNL has been seeing increasing benefits from DVR plays. The controversial appearance on the show capped off weeks of debate about whether or not the GOP presidential candidate should be given the mouthpiece.
There has been a lot of heat around Trump’s SNL arrival, but it still pales in comparison to the eve of the 2008 presidential election. Sarah Palin’s highly-publicized appearance on SNL that October capped off weeks of Tina Fey’s celebrated guest impersonations of the then-GOP running mate and brought the show its highest ratings since 1994: a 10.7 overnight rating.
Of course, in terms of SNL records, nothing approaches the primetime 40th anniversary special from earlier in the year. With an absurd 23 million viewers and a 7.8 rating among adults 18-49, it was the network’s top-rated entertainment program since 2006 — post-Super Bowl specials aside.
The Top 5 SNLs of the Last 5 Years
1. Jim Carrey: 7.8 overnight rating (Jan. 8, 2011)*
2. Charles Barkley: 7.4 overnight rating (Jan. 7, 2011)*
3. Jimmy Fallon: 6.3 overnight rating (Dec. 21, 2013)
4. Justin Timberlake: 5.9 overnight rating (March 9, 2013)
5. Lindsay Lohan: 5.5 overnight rating (March 3, 2012)
*Both Carrey and Barkley’s hosting stints got a huge lead-in from NFL wild card overrun.
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