According to reports, once the final overnight numbers are settled, Trump is likely to have netted somewhere around 9 million to 10 million viewers. In comparison for this season, host Miley Cyrus (Oct. 3) had 6.3 million viewers; Amy Schumer (Oct. 10) had 4.9 million; and Tracy Morgan (Oct. 17) had 6 million. Last season’s live plus same-day ratings average was 5.1 million viewers.
So while Trump is obviously the most-viewed host of the season, how does he compare with some of the other highest-rated “SNL” episodes in recent years? And though we all know why people wanted to watch Trump, why did some of these other hosts get big ratings?
(For comparison’s sake, the highest-rated “SNL” ever was when 17 million people watched Olympic skater Nancy Kerrigan host in March 1994, shortly after the Tonya Harding incident.)
Steve Martin (Feb. 4, 2006)
9.3 million viewers
Reason for ratings: Martin has hosted 15 times, the second-highest number of anyone, so he’s clearly a draw. This episode also included a cameo from Alec Baldwin, who has hosted the show a record 16 times. Oh, and Prince was the musical guest.
Peyton Manning (March 24, 2007)
7.9 million viewers
Reason for ratings: Nearly two months after the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl, people continued to be dazzled by the quarterback. Plus, it brought us this skit:
Josh Brolin (Oct. 18, 2008)
Reason for ratings: Sorry, Brolin, it wasn’t because of you — this is when Tina Fey and real-life Sarah Palin briefly crossed paths on stage, leading to 17 million viewers in that precise moment. Later that season, 13 million people watched Ben Affleck host three days before the election, when Fey came back for her final Palin impression and John McCain made a cameo.
Tina Fey (April 10, 2010)
Reason for ratings: Apparently Fey and musical guest Justin Bieber are a winning combination — especially when the Biebs shows up in sketches.
Betty White (May 8, 2010)
Reason for ratings: Actually, once DVR ratings were factored in, about 15 million people watched the 88-year-old actress become the oldest host ever. She got the gig after a highly publicized Facebook campaign in which people begged executive producer Lorne Michaels to make White the host. And he obliged.
Jim Carrey (Jan. 8, 2011)
Reason for ratings: The AFC Wild Card game (Colts v. Jets) ran long, boosting “SNL” with millions more viewers. Although the episode was fine, too.
Justin Timberlake (May 21, 2011)
Reason for ratings: Timberlake, one of the most popular hosts, enthralled the crowd once more — and Lady Gaga was the musical guest.
Charles Barkley (Jan. 7, 2012)
Reason for ratings: This time, the NFL Wild Card game (Lions v. Saints) was the culprit over a ratings overrun.
Jimmy Fallon (Dec. 21, 2013)
Reason for ratings: People tuned in droves for the former “Weekend Update” co-host a few months before he took over “The Tonight Show,” with DVR viewers adding 4 million to the total. His buddy Justin Timberlake came back as the musical guest.
Chris Rock (Nov. 1, 2014)
Reason for ratings: Another popular host, plus the bonus of Prince as the musical guest.