Nearly 12 million people watched the 42nd debut of Saturday Night Live, making it the long-running NBC late night franchise’s most watched premiere in 22 years. Adding in three days of time-shifting and video-on-demand viewership, the audience for the season starter in which Alec Baldwin played Donald Trump at the first presidential debate, and Larry David returned as Sen. Bernie Sanders, grew from its L+Same Day 8.297M to 11.788M.
The telecast, hosted by Margot Robbie and featuring musical guest The Weeknd, has delivered the highest viewer totals for any SNL season premiere, even counting L+7 time-shifted viewing, since the September 24, 1994 opener hosted by Steve Martin with musical guest Eric Clapton (12.201 million).
In the 18-49 demo, SNL’s October 1 edition has averaged a 3.64 rating in L+3. It now stands as the top-rated Saturday Night Live debut in eight years, dating back to the September 13, 2008 season opener, hosted by Michael Phelps, and featuring an appearance by Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin, as well as musical guest Lil Wayne. That episode averaged a 4.94 in L+7 adult 18-49 rating.
Counting all telecasts, last weekend’s SNL is the franchise’s top-rated in L+3 18-49 rating since the February 1, 2014 telecast, when Seth Meyers’ last Weekend Update, hosting by Melissa McCarthy, and musical guest Imagine Dragons resulted in a 3.95 in L+3.