Note: the show had the advantage of a hefty lead-in from the Eagles-Cowboys Wild Card game (though that also wound up delaying the start time of SNL by ~30 minutes in eastern and central timezones).
via press release:
‘SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’ REACHES ITS TOP PERFORMANCE IN 18-49 RATING AND TOTAL VIEWERS IN 14 MONTHS
WITH HOST CHARLES BARKLEY AND MUSICAL GUEST ALICIA KEYS, ‘SNL’ OUT-RATES ALL SATURDAY PRIMETIME NON-SPORTS PROGRAMS ON ALL MAJOR NETWORKS THIS SEASON IN 18-49 AND TOTAL VIEWERS
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. – January 14, 2010 – The January 9 telecast of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by Charles Barkley and featuring musical guest Alicia Keys dominated its time period with a 4.4 rating, 19 share in adults 18-49 and 10.4 million viewers overall, the show’s top adult 18-49 and total-viewers results in 14 months.
These were the top “SNL” results since the November 1, 2008 telecast, which was hosted by Ben Affleck, featured musical guest David Cook and had an appearance by Senator John McCain days before the 2008 Presidential election (5.2/19 in 18-49, 13.0 million viewers overall).
The January 9 “SNL” delivered the #1 non-sports 18-49 and total-viewer results of the night, topping all primetime entertainment telecasts on all the major networks. In fact, SNL generated the #1 non-sports Saturday rating of the season to date in both 18-49 and total viewers, ahead of all primetime entertainment telecasts on the major networks through the first 16 Saturdays of the 2009-10 season.
All ratings are “live plus same day” figures from Nielsen Media Research, unless otherwise indicated.