If only Saturday Night Live could turn 40 every week. NBC’s marathon-length SNL anniversary special delivered enormous ratings Sunday night. The episode averaged an incredible 23.1 million viewers and a 7.8 rating among adults 18-49 during the prime-time portion of its three-and-a-half hour telecast.
According to NBC, this is the network’s most-watched prime-time entertainment telecast (so excluding Super Bowl coverage) in more than 10 years—since the ER finale in 2004. Among the adult demo, it’s the top-rated primetime entertainment telecast in more than eight years (since the Will & Grace finale in 2006). In fact, this is the top-rated non-sports entertainment telecast on any network since an episode of Fox’s American Idol three years ago.
Records were also broken on Twitter, with 9.1 million people seeing 1.3 million tweets about the special, earning SNL the highest number of Twitter TV impressions of any series episode to date, as measured by Nielsen Social.
The special may have been helped by severe cold on the East Coast, which had residents being advised to stay indoors, as well as a lack of competition from rival broadcast networks.