Eddie Murphy’s ‘SNL’ Return Scores 11-Year Audience High With Delayed Viewing

NBC sketch show also had its biggest-ever lift when counting a week’s worth of (mostly) DVR playback

Saturday Night Live - Season 45 Eddie Murphy
Photo by: Will Heath/NBC

Eddie Murphy’s long-awaited return to “Saturday Night Live” on Dec. 21 scored the NBC sketch series its biggest-ever lift when counting a week’s worth of delayed viewing, according to Nielsen.

With Murphy as host for the first time in 35 years and pop star Lizzo as its musical guest, the last “SNL” episode of 2019 scored 16.293 million total viewers in “Live + 7 Day” data from the ratings currency company. That’s an increase of 6.308 million viewers over a week’s worth of catchup, which is mostly attributed to DVR playback.

The Dec. 21 episode also hit an 11-year audience high for “SNL” in L+7 viewers, scoring the largest time-shifted audience in that metric since its Oct. 18, 2008 telecast, which included an appearance by Sarah Palin, who was being impersonated by Tina Fey. That episode — hosted by Josh Brolin with musical guest Adele — hit 16.837 million viewers with a week of delayed viewing.

According to Nielsen data, Murphy’s return has grown to a 4.37 rating in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, marking the show’s highest-rated episode in L7’s since it hit a 4.88 rating with host Alec Baldwin and musical guest Ed Sheeran on Feb. 11, 2017.

Compared to the season-to-date averages for “SNL’s” currently airing 45h season, the Dec. 21 episodes was +112% in the key demo (4.37 vs. 2.06) and +91% in total viewers (16.293 million vs. 8.540 million).

“SNL” will return with its first episode of 2020 — and of the new decade — on Jan. 25 which features Adam Driver as the host and Halsey as musical guest.