We're not sure if it was Tina Fey's dead-on, pitch-perfect portrayal of Sarah Palin, or the wunderkind with eight gold medals in one Olympic games, but the peacocks at NBC are delighted either way. Actually I am pretty sure it was Tina Fey, but we'd need to see the ratings for just the first 15 minutes to say that definitively. Averaging a 7.6/18 (household rating/share) after 11:30pm would make any network happy these days though so it doesn't really matter. Below is the press release with NBC's spin on the ratings performance, but if you haven't already seen it (and even if you have), you'll probably enjoy Tina Fey as Sarah Palin more than the press release:
'SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE' SCORES ITS HIGHEST SEASON-PREMIERE OVERNIGHT RATING IN SEVEN YEARS
SOARING 64 PERCENT ABOVE YEAR-AGO RESULTS, 'SNL' DELIVERS ITS BIGGEST SEASON OPENER SINCE 2001
WITH HOST MICHAEL PHELPS, MUSICAL GUEST LIL WAYNE AND A SPECIAL APPEARANCE BY TINA FEY, 'SNL' TOPS ALL ITS TELECASTS, PREMIERE OR OTHERWISE, SINCE 2002
BURBANK, Calif. - September 14, 2008 - The 34th season premiere of "Saturday Night Live" has delivered the show's highest overnight rating for a season debut since 2001, according to metered-market household ratings from Nielsen Media Research.
Last night's telecast was hosted by Olympic swimming sensation Michael Phelps and featured musical guest Lil Wayne, with a special appearance by Tina Fey, portraying Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, as well as a cameo by William Shatner. The telecast averaged a 7.4 rating, 18 share in 55 markets metered by Nielsen, with New Orleans excluded and Houston subject to revision.
This is the top-rated "Saturday Night Live" season debut since September 29, 2001 (7.6/18), with a telecast hosted by Reese Witherspoon and featuring musical guest Alicia Keys, the first "SNL" original after the attacks of September 11. Last night's program is also the highest-rated "SNL," premiere or otherwise, since December 14, 2002 (7.5/17), with host Al Gore and musical guest Phish.
Versus the year-ago season premiere (4.5/11 on September 29, 2007), last night's edition of "Saturday Night Live" was up 64 percent in the metered markets.
The top-rated markets in the country for last night's "SNL" were: Baltimore, 14.7/29; St. Louis, 12.6/25; Oklahoma City, 11.0/21; Indianapolis, 10.7/23; and Nashville, 10.7/21. "SNL" scored an 8.3/20 in the New York market.
National ratings and demographic results for last night's "Saturday Night Live" are due from Nielsen on Thursday, Sept. 18.