‘SNL’ Scores White-Hot Ratings

Betty White-hosted episode hits highest national 18-49, total viewer ratings in 18 months

Thanks to suddenly hip host Betty White, the May 8 “Saturday Night Live” scored its highest national 18-49 and total-viewer results in a year and a half, NBC said.

According to live-plus-same-day national viewing figures from Nielsen, those figures are the highest since the pre-election telecast of November 2008.

Betty White hosts SNLIn addition to host White and musical guest Jay-Z, the May 8 “SNL” featured a salute to Mother’s Day with performances by show alumnae Rachel Dratch, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon.

The May 8 show averaged a 4.6/18 in the key adults 18-49 demographic and 12.1 million viewers overall. Those are the highest numbers for the series since Nov. 1, 2008, when it scored a 5.2/19 and 13.0 million viewers overall for a telecast hosted by Ben Affleck with musical guest David Cook and appearances by Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.

The Oct. 18, 2008, "SNL" featuring the real Sarah Palin scored a 5.5/20 in 18-49 and 15.0 million viewers.

Those two aside, however, Betty White had the top-rated “Saturday Night Live” in 18-49 since Jan. 10, 2004 (Jennifer Aniston and Black Eyed Peas) and the biggest in total viewers since Sept. 24, 1994 (season premiere, Steve Martin and Eric Clapton).

In 18-49, “SNL” actually tied for the No. 4 telecast of the entire week of May 3-9, behind only Fox’s two “American Idol” editions and “Glee,” and tied with CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory.” In total viewers, “Saturday Night Live” is the No. 11 program of the week.

“Saturday Night Live” was the top-rated telecast on Saturday night, topping all primetime programs on all major networks.

Maybe they should have Betty White host every week.