‘Saturday Night Live’ With Betty White Boosts Big Ratings

betty-white-snlImage Credit: NBC

Betty White’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was truly golden: Last night’s edition posted its highest overnight ratings in 18 months.  The telecast featuring White and musical guest Jay-Z averaged an 8.8 rating/21 share among 56 local markets tracked by Nielsen. That’s a high for the series since Nov. 1, 2008, when Ben Affleck hosted and Republican Presidential nominee John McCain appeared alongside Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin.

In 25 markets with local people meters, last night’s edition averaged a 5.1/20 share among adults 18-49 – another high since the Nov. 1 telecast.

Not surprisingly, last night’s SNL was No. 1 for the night, topping all primetime programs on all major networks. In homes, SNL doubled the No. 1 telecast in primetime, which was ABC’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs (a 4.4/8 in metered markets). Versus the same night last year, SNL was up 66% in metered-market households. Besides White, last night’s edition also featured appearances by SNL alums Rachel Dratch, Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph and Molly Shannon.

Final ratings, including viewer totals, for last night are due from Nielsen on Thursday. (Entertainment Weekly)

Betty White fans have another reason to appreciate Facebook. Not only did it provide the platform to petition for the TV icon to host Saturday Night Live, it became a hilarious punch line in her opening monologue.

“When I first heard about the campaign to get me to host Saturday Night Live, I didn’t know what Facebook was,” White said. “And now that I do know what it is, I have to say it sounds like a huge waste of time.”

The jokes continued – “When I was young we didn’t have Facebook, we had phone book,” she said, “but you wouldn’t waste an afternoon with it” – but White’s Facebook fans can rest assured their online effort wasn’t a waste. In fact, the actress, who appeared in every skit, is getting rave reviews.

“All it took to reinvigorate a 35-year-old comedy show was the presence of an 88-year-old woman,” writes Dave Itzoff of the New York Times. “The only real disappointment of the night was when the clock struck 1 a.m. and Ms. White and the cast had to step on stage to wave their goodbyes.”

Whether singing her muffins’ praises on NPR or donning a black ski mask for a hardcore version of The Golden Girls theme song, White shined on a night when SNL welcomed back many of its female heavy hitters, including Molly Shannon, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Ana Gasteyer.

“Her comic delivery is still formidable,” says the Chicago Tribune‘s Maureen Ryan. “The show would be smart to extend an open invitation to White to return as host any time, but given how in demand she is, who knows if she’d be able to make it back?”

And even musical guest Jay-Z seemed in awe of White. After his second song, “Young Forever,” he dedicated the performance to “the most incredible Betty White.”  (People)

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