SNL Season 42 posting highest ratings in 22 years thanks to Trump skits

Credit: SNL/NBC
Credit: SNL/NBC /

Saturday Night Live’s ratings have risen to their highest level in decades fueled by Donald Trump’s presidency.

Donald Trump has helped SNL experience a ratings resurgence in its 42nd season. The NBC sketch series is not only up double digits compared to last year, but it is also having its most-watched season since 1995. According to Variety, viewership is up 19% among adults 18-49 (3.5 vs. 2.9 rating) and 22% in total viewers (10.6 million vs. 8.7 million) over the comparable period in the 2015-16 season.

While the show’s ratings have been stellar throughout the first half of Season 42, SNL has gotten a boost anytime an episode airs after a major political event, including the presidential debates, the general election and Trump’s inauguration, which were all among the highest-rated installments of the season. But the most recent episode hosted by Kristen Stewart, who was a frequent target of Trump on Twitter over her relationship with Robert Pattinson, managed to maintain the 2.5 18-49 demo rating from the Jan. 21 episode, which was the first to air since Trump took office, making it the second highest-rated program of the week behind only The Big Bang Theory (3.3), though given its time slot, the series routinely rises by double digits when delayed viewing figures are factored in. That tied it as the second highest-rated episode since the post-election episode hosted by Dave Chappelle in November.

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The president has made it known that he’s no fan of Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of him on the show, but his tweets lambasting the skits may be having the opposite effect, leading more people to tune in thanks to the unintended publicity. SNL has taken to not just lampooning Trump, but also various members of his administration, including Kellyanne Conway (Kate McKinnon), Sean Spicer (Melissa McCarthy), Betsy Devos (McKinnon), Steve Bannon as the Grim Reaper (Mikey Day) and even close ally Vladimir Putin (Beck Bennett).

McCarthy’s spoofing of the White House press secretary caused waves over the weekend, generating enough buzz online after it aired in the Eastern time zone that it may helped boost the episode’s ratings when it was broadcast on the West Coast. Though Trump has not directly commented on the sketch which is already being regarded as one of the show’s best skits in years, he was reportedly upset that Spicer was played by a woman. In his first press briefing since he was mocked by McCarthy, Spicer reined in some of his more extreme mannerisms on Tuesday, quickly getting through the reporters’ questions without cracking a smile, and opting not to take questions via Skype from local radio hosts and newscasters as he has during previous briefings.

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SNL is taking full advantage of the renewed interest in the show by handing over an entire episode to Baldwin next week, marking his 17th time as host. He’ll be joined by English singer Ed Shereen as musical guest.

SNL continues Saturday, Feb. 11 at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.