'Saturday Night Live' with Betty White attracts big ratings

betty-white-snlImage Credit: NBCBetty White’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was truly golden: Last night’s edition posted its highest overnight ratings in 18 months.  The telecast featuring White and musical guest Jay-Z averaged an 8.8 rating/21 share among 56 local markets tracked by Nielsen. That’s a high for the series since Nov. 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Republican Presidential nominee John McCain appeared alongside Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin.

In 25 markets with local people meters, last night’s edition averaged a 5.1/20 share among adults 18-49 – another high since the Nov. 1 telecast.

Not surprisingly, last night’s SNL was No. 1 for the night, topping all primetime programs on all major networks. In homes, SNL doubled the No. 1 telecast in primetime, which was ABC’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs (a 4.4/8 in metered markets). Versus the same night last year, SNL was up 66 percent in metered-market households. Besides White, last night’s edition also featured appearances by SNL alums Rachel Dratch, Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon.

Final ratings, including viewer totals, for last night are due from Nielsen on Thursday.

Comments (184 total) Add your comment
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  • Alex

    I think its time to start a campaign for Sherman Hemsley to host. We need George Jefferson!!!!!

    • kim

      Sherman Helmsey is too good for that show. SNL shoulda been cancelled decades ago. Their forced humor is hard to watch.

      • Evie

        Sherman Hemsley is hilarious and would probably be the best host in a long time if they don’t restrict him

      • @kim

        I guess trolls even work on Sundays.

      • db

        it’s never been ore than spotty, from the 70s on. moments of pure genius and moments of mind-numbing stupidity have always defined the show (though some of the 80s shows had none of the former). yet any conversation about snl has the inevitable, predictable, tired, and utterly baseless assertion that “it ain’t what it used to be.”

      • skrtchartist

        Sorry, but it AIN’T what it used to be.

      • Alby

        If you know so much about him, then you would know that his last name is Hemsley, not Helmsey. Second, how would you know that the humor on SNL has been forced for decades? Have you been watching it? If so, then why are you complaining about it? If not, then how do you know the humor has been forced. No matter what, you lose.

      • RS

        I get tired of old farts saying it isn’t as good as the old days. I started watching in the Sandler/Farley days. Those where hilarious. I’ve seen old reruns from the 70’s. I’m sure I didn’t find them as funny because I couldn’t relate. This is the same reason older people can’t appreciate SNL from the last 20 years.

      • Todd

        Cool story bro

      • Chud

        I like SNL. If you don’t like it, then why do you watch it? And if you don’t watch it, how do you if their humor is forced?

      • lee hung

        And their over the top left liberal slant….NBC lost me as a viewer over a year ago….

    • Hal

      Lol, is that dude even still alive???

      • lormer

        Yes he is. But Weezie (Isabel Sanford) died in 2004.

      • lormer

        Some fun trivia for fans of The Jeffersons… Did you know that Isabel Sanford was actually 21 years OLDER than Sherman Hemsley. She was born 8/29/17 and he was born 2/1/38. So when they started the show in January 1975, she was 57 and he was 36! I always knew that Weezy was a cougar!

      • lormer

        Oops, I meant Weezy not Weezie. Sorry to all the Jefferson purists out there. :)

  • Jeff

    Betty White was amazing! That was the best SNL I’ve seen in years.

    • Cathi

      I am not surprised that Betty was so wonderful. Have watched her in many sitcoms over the years and have always made me laugh. Hope she is around for a very long time to come.

      • EnvyEyes

        You realize she’s 88 and a half years old right? She won’t be around for a long time. Better get it while it’s hot.

  • SirLizard

    “ABC’s coverage of the NBC Playoffs”

    Nobody will ever mistake me for a sports expert, but I believe it’s called the NBA Playoff, not NBC.

    • Alex

      Maybe its wishful thinking, I love sports and ABC/ESPN does an AWFUL job of covering the NBA, its time it went back to NBC

      • DL

        Plus, that would open up John Tesh’s NBA on NBC theme which oozes awesomeness out of every pore.

      • Elizabeth

        NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…. did we not learn a thing from the Olympics??!!!

        I hated the NBA on NBC, or as I liked to call it back then “Nothing But Chicago.”

    • lormer

      Uh, Alex… you’re what they call anal retentive. So they had a typo. Relax dude.

      • lormer

        Sorry, I meant SirLizard is anal retentive, not Alex.

  • KFed

    Go Betty!
    A ratings powerhouse well into her ’80s. May she return soon.

    PS: Where was Cheri Oteri?

    • Dan

      She was probably there; we just didn’t recognize her thanks to all the work she’s had done.

    • steak

      She was one of the two people Tracy Morgan said was rude to him when he worked there in his book. Maybe he wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

  • Victor Purinton, Cambridge, MA

    Abe Vigoda is next.

  • Bob Cain

    SNL really did a disservice to Betty White. The writers should be fired or at least educated. What a lot of trash.

    • ok

      You do know hosts have VETO power on all sketches. If Betty didn’t like it, it wouldn’t have appeared on screen. Get your facts straight you prude.

      • DieGODiego

        I agree what a prude!! I loved all the sketches

    • Rick

      Obviously you don’t know betty white very well. She can be quite naughty haha.

    • Bird

      You must have never seen “Lake Placid”, my friend.

    • Jay Thomas

      I agree. The talentless writers stooped to the gutter for potty-humor that appeals to 14 yr old boys and a certain mentality. It was degrading to Betty White’s talent and character. Wake Up people! Rude and Crude is not “Cool!”

  • Chip

    How about a write in campaign for Carol Burnett next? You know that could be great as well!

    • D

      Absolutely brilliant idea!!!!

    • jared4ever

      OMG i LOVE Carol Burnett!!!!!

    • NoChance

      Great idea! Carol Burnett would be wonderful.

    • gayle swilley

      aint nothing like the real thing!!! You are right on!!!

    • Veronica

      OMG! Reading this brought back memories. I used to stay up late every night as a kid to watch the Carol Burnett show. How do we make this happen?! AND if it’s done, there MUST be a gone with the wind skit.

    • Amy

      Carol would make a great SNL host!

  • Jack

    I think it’s about time that Carol Burnett returns to what she does best! Hosting a variety show.

    • Zoe

      I like this idea!

    • jon

      Carol Burnett on SNL? I doubt it. Why would she tarnish her image and stoop to that level? Maybe if she were allowed to writhe all of the sketches.

      • Amy

        Getting a person with not a single writing credit to her name? Even Carol Burnett needs writers.

      • wakeforce

        No one wants to see Carol Burnett “writhe” in all the sketches. If you feel that Betty White tarnished her image, you are an idiot! She is quite the bawdy old lady! I am surprised by all the Disney attitudes displayed by some people. This ain’t the 1950s.

      • Scott

        I thought during the 70’s that SNL writers would reject lesser ideas by saying, “That’s too Carol Burnett.” Of course, today’s writers would just have her speak ghetto and do gay jokes, so the point is probably moot.

  • Zo

    I laughed during EVERY segment on last night’s SNL… that hasn’t happened since… well, never! Go Betty!

  • michelle

    Last nights SNL was great! Betty White’s performance was awesome, she looks amazing for her age! Incorporating the former SNL cast was a smart move, they are always fun to watch! I especially enjoyed JZ’s performance along with the SNL digital clip!

  • hatersbehatin

    This was the best SNL in a long time.

  • Zoe

    She was awesome. And it was great to see so many of the former SNL alums also there to do their best. An inspired show and kudos to all.

  • Laura Marten

    Betty White is amazing. She was fantastic on the show and loved seeing all the SNL ladies, especially Molly Shannon. Wouldn’t it be great for all these ladies to have their own comedy variety show, I would also have Carol Burnett in this show too, if only I had my own network!

    • KFed

      Yes! They could call it The Girly Show. Or TSG with Betty White.

    • Purrmaid

      OMG, you’ve hit it on the nail head. The weak links on SNL are the men and the writers. The writers cater to tired lazy jokes about middle-aged men cruising teens girls on the internet, farts, overweight sports fans…all a seen-that-skit-too-often snore.

      A show with the SNL ladies, past and present, with a rotating host spot for Bette White, Carol Burnett, Lily Tomlin, etc. rotating in as hostess. (I’m so tired of some flavor-of-the-month celebrity stumbling to read cue cards in simple sketches.)

      Seeing Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, and Tina Fey again reminded me of HOW MUCH their stellar talent is sooooooo greatly missed on SNL.

      Wish Cheri Oteri had been part of the show…like Bette White as the exhausted grandma to Cheri’s hyper-active little girl character.

      Bette White, god bless you for agreeing to host because you’ve given that show a kick in the pants to better itself……FINALLY!

      • @Purrmaid

        Pardon me, the men are the weak links at SNL? Have you seen Jenny Slate? Do you remember Casey Wilson and have you seen Kristen Wiig lately? Wiig’s 5 repeated characters have become so dull, I groan anytime she’s on screen. Obviously SNL has had very talented and funny women over the years, but I would in no way say that they are currently a highlight of the show. The versatility of Hader, Sudekis and Forte I think is what keeps the show rolling. Also, once a Keenan hater, he’s found his roles on the show. Not to mention that Samberg’s digital shorts floated the show for a couple years, though they are hit and miss. Ultimately though, it’s always about who’s coming in the door too, and I do give big props to Bobby Moynihan AND Abby Elliott, I think they both have a lot of potential. I did love the collection of SNL women alumnus they brought back, but they can leave Oteri out.

      • lormer

        @Purrmaid, I don’t know if the men are the weak links on SNL, like you claim, but YOU are the weak link on the board. Have you ever heard of the word editing? No one wants to read LONG a$$ messages like yours. Get to the point!

  • Rochelle

    I cannot help but comment on this. I was SO proud of Betty when I watched last night. I have been watching The Golden Girls since I was 12 – which would be 20 years and counting. With the losses of Bea and Estelle, as a fan, I’ve come to treasure the remaining gals, Rue and Betty, that much more. I think she deserved a standing ovation when she came out for the monologue. And there was no doubt she would be an amazing host – the woman is a pro. At 88, she should win the dam Emmy for pulling it off so wonderfully. Seriously, my eyes were brimming up a little last night. Here’s to more wonderful surprises this year – go 2010 and Betty White!

    • Rocky

      Do you want to be my new best friend?

    • moni

      I agree, she needs a damm emmy just for working on SNL. She was great!

  • am

    Gee, I wonder if any *older* people watched the show. Ah, who cares; they’re old, useless, and don’t have any money, so why count them as potential consumers – I mean viewers. Betty White, I bow down before your greatness!

    • Steve

      No…older people are not useless but they do make mistakes like everyone else. It took two of them to make you.

      • Bob

        It’s called “irony” Steve.

      • Fran

        I think “am” was referring to the demographics in the article, the 18-49 group that’s supposed to be the target for ad sales. Old folks are left out of those surveys. You’re a tad literal (and mean spirited).

    • Susan

      It was my 73 year old Dad who emailed us kids to remind us to watch – and you can bet my parents were up watching. She is beloved by multiple generations – a true treasure. GO BETTY!
      And for those who did not like the show – there was something available to you called an “Off” button. Why did you not use it? The rest of us were laughing too hard to even think about picking up the remote.

      • Dream Out Loud

        I’m pretty sure they were “up watching” because they had just woken up and were on their way to breakfast.

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