NBC took Saturday Night Live out of Saturday late-night into Sunday primetime to mark its 40th anniversary. Actually, the veteran sketch show is not turning 40 for another eight months, until October 11, but the network has football then, and it’s sweeps now and there is blank slate on Sunday before NBC’s midseason lineup kicks in, so I guess why not.
And while many don’t celebrate the big 4-0, NBC is sure glad it did for SNL. Last night’s Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special delivered blockbuster ratings — a 7.8 fast national rating in 18-49 and 23.1 million viewers in primetime, from 8-11 PM (the special bled into late-night, with ratings for the 11-11:30 PM portion not yet available).
In 18-49, this marks NBC’s top-rated primetime entertainment telecast, excluding post-Super Bowl programs, in more than eight years, since the Will & Grace finale on May 18, 2006 (8.4). In total viewers, this is NBC’s most-watched primetime entertainment telecast, also excluding post-Super Bowl programs, in more than 10 years, since May 13, 2004 (23.9 million with ER on the night of the Frasier finale).
SNL 40 also is NBC’s top-rated and most-watched primetime entertainment special in 10 years, since the Friends clip show the night of the series’ finale on May 6, 2004 (16.7 in 18-49, 36.9 million viewers from 8-9 PM).
With an SNL red carpet special (3.0, 11.1 million) from 7-8 PM, the network averaged a 6.6 in 18-49 and 20.1 million viewers from 7-11 PM, NBC’s best Sunday numbers with entertainment programming in 11 years, since the 2004 Golden Globes. It won the night by a very wide margin.
Last night featured two finales. Against the SNL special, the abbreviated and possibly final Season 15 of CBS’ CSI wrapped with a series-low 1.1 rating among adults 18-49 for two back-to-back episodes at 9 PM and 10 PM. The Season 1 and series finale of Fox’s Mulaney at 7 PM matched a series low of 0.4. Its co-star Martin Short was seen by far wider audience on the SNL special.
CBS’ featuring the final report of late correspondent Bob Simon, logged a 1.2 in 18-49, down 20% from last week, and the largest audience on a network other than NBC last night, 10.4 million. At 8 PM, whose star, SNL alum Andy Samberg, was featured in the NBC special, was pushed to a low of 0.9, down 25% from last week. (1.2) was down -14%, Bob’s (0.9) was down -10%.s (0.9) was down 25% from its Friday telecast and 50% its most recent Sunday episode. Fox’s The Simpsons (1.1) was down a tenth from last week.
On ABC, America’s did best against the increased competition at NBC, matching last week’s 1.4 adults 18-49 rating at 7 PM. : Chris Tells All special logged a 1.5. It was followed by Part 1 of a two-night episode, which logged a series-low 1.5, down -44% from the regular Monday episode. But because ABC’s ratings bar on Sunday has been so low from 9-11 PM this season, this represents the network’s highest rating in the time slot since the American Music Awards in November.