The presidential election is proving fruitful for NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which opened its 42nd season on Saturday night with Alec Baldwin’s first guest appearance as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
The Saturday night variety show scored its biggest premiere rating in eight years, according to Nielsen Media Research, hitting a 5.8 rating/15 share live plus same day household rating in the overnights. That’s 29% higher than its season opener one year ago.
Among adults 18-49, SNL averaged a 2.7 rating/14 share, a 35% increase from last year, and the show’s highest score in the demo since Sept. 13, 2013.
The premiere had great timing, coming just five days after the first presidential debate, which made news all week. Baldwin jutted forth his lower lip for a spot-on impression of The Donald while Emmy-winner McKinnon donned a red suit for her now-famous Hillary impersonation. Larry David also returned to appear as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who gave Clinton a run for her money in the Democratic primaries.
SNL tends to over-perform in election years. Eight years ago, SNL’s premiere was hosted by Josh Brolin and featured Tina Fey taking on Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin in person. That season premiere averaged a 7.5 household rating in the overnight metered markets.