Saturday Night Live’s first-ever episode to air live across all U.S. time zones drew the show’s highest ratings since February.
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Saturday’s installment saw an average of 7.9 million viewers, with a 2.3 rating in the key demographic of 18-49-year-olds, according to Nielsen data—putting it just behind Fox’s Empire and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory.
This continues the upward trend at SNL, which is having its most-watched season in 23 years, and which has seen a 22 percent spike compared to last year. It drew the most ratings since the show’s February 11 episode hosted by Alec Baldwin, which brought in 10.8 million viewers and averaged 3.1 in the 18-49-year-olds.
Saturday’s episode was hosted by Jimmy Fallon and featured Baldwin as President Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
The decision to air live in all time zones speaks to the show’s renewed cultural relevance and ensures social media doesn’t spoil the content for West Coast viewers.
“Everyone is on the joke at the same time,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said.
NBC will continue the coast-to-coast live broadcasts for the season’s final three original episodes, before taking a short break from originals and returning on May 6 with three new episodes in a row.
READ MORE: Variety, Deadline