The 44th season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” has generated the show’s second highest-rated season debut in six years, trailing over that span only 2016’s election-fueled results, according to preliminary metered-market “live plus same day” results from Nielsen Media Research.
With an edition hosted by Adam Driver and featuring musical guest Kanye West and an appearance by Matt Damon, last night’s “Saturday Night Live” averaged a 4.8 rating, 11 share in “live plus same day” household results from the 56 local markets metered by Nielsen and a 2.3/12 in adults 18-49 in the 25 markets with local people meters.
The September 29 edition, which aired live coast to coast (11:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. PT) and counted unduplicated viewers from 11:30 encores in western markets, generated the show’s second biggest metered-market household rating for a season debut since Sept. 15, 2012, when the telecast hosted by Seth MacFarlane and featuring musical guest Frank Ocean, also averaged a 4.8.
Over that six-year span, the only bigger result for an “SNL” season debut came with the 2016 opener, hosted by Margot Robbie and featuring musical guest The Weeknd, as well as the first appearance of Alec Baldwin as then-Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump (5.8 rating in metered-market households).
Excluding election years, this is the highest “SNL” season premiere since the Sept. 24, 2011 opener with host Alec Baldwin and musical guest Radiohead (5.1).
Versus the year-ago premiere, last night’s “Saturday Night Live” grew +7% in metered-market households (4.8 vs. 4.5 on Sept. 30, 2017) and +10% in 18-49 in the local people meters (2.3 vs. 2.1). Last night’s household rating tops every “SNL” telecast from last season except the Jan. 27 edition, hosted by Will Ferrell and featuring musical guest Chris Stapleton (4.9). In 18-49 in the local people meters, “SNL” most recently topped last night’s 2.3 with the 2016-17 season finale, May 20, 2017, with host Dwayne Johnson and musical guest Katy Perry (2.6).
Note that “SNL” will add significant viewership via time-shifting, with last season’s 21 originals growing by +58% in 18-49 and +2.662 million persons or +40% in total viewers nationally going from “live plus same day” Nielsens to “live plus seven day” figures. In L+SD, “SNL” last season averaged a 1.78 rating in 18-49 nationally and 6.716 million viewers overall, and in L+7, “SNL” grew to a 2.81 in 18-49 and 9.378 million viewers.
It was the show’s #2 most-watched season in L+7 in 23 years, since “SNL” averaged 9.868 million viewers for originals in 1994-95, trailing over that span only the prior season’s election-fueled average of 11.070 million viewers.
Official-national ratings for the Sept. 29 edition of “Saturday Night Live,” including viewership numbers, are due from Nielsen on Tuesday, Oct. 2.