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For the first time in its history, Saturday Night Live finished ahead of every other entertainment show in the ratings — not just in late night, but across all of ad-supported TV.
The NBC series wrapped its 46th season as the top entertainment program (i.e., not including sports telecasts) among adults 18-49. It’s the top-rated comedy in the key ad demographic for the second consecutive season.
For the season, SNL averaged a 2.06 rating in the demo — equivalent to about 2.67 million adults under 50 — with a week of delayed viewing. That was enough to edge Fox’s The Masked Singer and NBC’s This Is Us (both of which are at 2.0 ratings) for the top spot. It’s well clear of the second-highest-rated comedy, CBS’ Young Sheldon (1.2 rating).
Saturday Night Live also drew 9 million viewers per episode in the seven-day ratings, which ranks 12th among all broadcast entertainment shows.
“SNL is one of the most culturally significant shows in television history, and being No. 1 in its 46th season is a testament to how that relevance has continued to grow over the past five decades,” said Susan Rovner, chairman of entertainment content at NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “One of the greatest gifts of this role is being able to watch the SNL team do what they do each week, all while keeping the show as strong and vibrant as ever.”
Added Katie Hockmeyer, executive vp late night programming, “Congratulations to Lorne Michaels and the entire cast and crew for this milestone. What makes it even more remarkable is that it was accomplished during a pandemic, amid quarantines and strict protocols. It required an outstanding blend of brilliant, creative entertainment and technological talent.”
SNL got an election year bump in the fall, scoring big audiences for a run of six straight episodes to open the season (the longest stretch of live shows to open a season in its history). The Nov. 7 episode, hosted by Dave Chappelle, hit a three-year high in adults 18-49 and drew the show’s second-largest same-day viewership (after a 2019 installment hosted by Eddie Murphy) since May 2017.
The show maintained much of its ratings momentum into the early part of 2021, staying above 6 million same-day viewers for seven straight episodes after Nov. 7 (and 14 of 20 for the season). Only nine of the prior season’s 18 episodes reached that mark.
NBC also says SNL racked up 1.6 billion YouTube views for this season, the most of any late night show. The most watched clip is a debate sketch from the season premiere featuring Jim Carrey as Joe Biden and Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump. As of publication, it had nearly 31.3 million views.
Full seven-day ratings for the 2020-21 season will be available next week.
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