‘SNL’ Season 47 Premiere Is Lowest-Rated Episode in Show’s History

Owen Wilson picked the wrong year to host “Saturday Night Live”

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The “SNL” Season 47 premiere is now the lowest-rated episode among adults 18-49 in the show’s long-running history, according to Nielsen. While Saturday’s episode, hosted by Owen Wilson, was the least-watched season premiere episode of all-time, it was not the least-watched of any episode ever in terms of total viewers.

This past Saturday’s episode, which was hosted by Owen Wilson, drew a 0.92 rating in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and 4.9 million total viewers. Those Nielsen numbers were down 50% in the demo and 41% overall from the show’s Season 46 premiere, which was hosted by Chris Rock.

Rock’s episode scored a 1.85 national rating among adults 18-49 and 8.252 million overall viewers.

For what it’s worth, Wilson’s 0.92 rating was the second-highest number in the key demo for any comedy that aired during Fall TV Premiere Week 2021. Only “The Simpsons,” which airs in primetime and had an NFL lead-in, did better.

The previous all-time ratings low for a “Saturday Night Live” episode was the 0.93 Keegan-Michael Key’s episode managed back on May 15 of this year.

The “Key & Peele” alum avoided posting a record low in total viewers. That unfortunate distinction still belongs to Scarlett Johansson, whose episode settled for 4.7 million total viewers back on May 2, 2015. (Key’s episode rounded up to 4.8 million total viewers.)

It’s important to note here that as time passes, more and more viewing shifts to delayed catch-up and digital platforms. Those lifts are not counted for any episode in this story.

Wilson’s hosting debut was the first-ever “SNL” episode to be live-streamed, which may have stolen *some* viewers that would have otherwise been measured by Nielsen. Not many though.

Based on a previously available data set from Nielsen, Saturday’s episode was down 35% among households and -53% in the important 18-49 demo vs. the prior season’s premiere.

Keep in mind that the Season 46 premiere had a looming presidential election to draw comedy from. It was also the highly anticipated debut of Jim Carrey playing Joe Biden, which was announced and advertised ahead of the episode.

Kacey Musgraves was Wilson musical guest. Rock’s was Megan Thee Stallion.

Next week’s “SNL” features Kim Kardashian West as host and Halsey as the musical guest. That episode will be followed by Rami Malek/Young Thug and Jason Sudeikis/Brandi Carlile.

Cast members Beck Bennett and Lauren Holt have exited “SNL,” while the NBC variety sketch series will be retaining this ensemble lineup for the 2021-22 season: Aidy Bryant, Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Mikey Day, Chloe Fineman, Heidi Gardner, Colin Jost, Kate McKinnon, Alex Moffat, Kyle Mooney, Ego Nwodim, Chris Redd, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor and Bowen Yang, featuring Andrew Dismukes and Punkie Johnson.

Three featured players have been added to the “SNL” cast for Season 47: Aristotle Athari, James Austin Johnson and Sarah Sherman.

In addition to the live broadcast on NBC, Peacock will livestream the first four episodes of “SNL’s” 47th season.