Ratings: SNL Anniversary 30 Rocks With 23 Million Viewers, CSI Finale Dips

SNL 40th Anniversary Ratings

Saturday Night Lives 40th anniversary special had everything: New sketches featuring old friends. Remade classic bits. Crowd-pleasing montages. And more than 20 million viewers.

Specifically, Sunday night’s commemorative event drew 23.1 million total viewers from 8 to 11 pm, while drawing a 7.8 demo rating — numbers subject to adjustment once the final half hour gets folded in.

As such, the special currently stands as NBC’s top-rated primetime entertainment telecast (excluding post-Super Bowl programs) in more than eight years (since the Will & Grace series finale), and the most watched in more than 10 years.

Imagine the ratings for the 50th anniversary in 2025 if Eddie Murphy actually comes out and tells a joke?!


ABC | Chris Tells All drew 5.6 mil and a 1.5, while the fresh Bachelor episode that followed did 6 mil/1.5 — hitting a 12-week high for the time period (since the AMAs).

CBS | The final two episodes of CSI Season 15 each did 7 mil/1.1, down 16 percent and two tenths from the show’s most recent Sunday outing. A special Undercover Boss opened the Eye’s night with 6.3 mil/0.9.

FOX | Mulaney‘s (series?) finale mustered 1.1 mil and a 0.4. Up against the SNL behemoth, The Simpsons (2.7 mil/1.1) and Bob’s Burgers (2 mil/0.9) each dipped a tenth, Family Guy (2.5 mil/1.2) slipped two tenths and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2.1 mil/0.9) fell 20 and 25 percent.

Want scoop on any of the above shows? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. fringe30 says:

    I actually thought it was very good. I could have done without all the musical guests (I did like Miley). But music has always and will always be apart of the show. I wish they wouldn’t have had so many “celebrities” that really haven’t done anything important in the show and focused on the cast that is still alive and the “celebrities” that have had the biggest impact. No SNL has ever been perfect and this was no different.

    • Patrick says:

      I get you on all your points. I felt like the show didn’t need all the musical guests, but I’m not really a music fan. I don’t dislike music, but I am OK without it. That said, we won’t get to see icons like the Pauls perform live, for all that much longer. They might not be around in 10 years for the 50th reunion, so I’m glad we got to see them. Miley was there for younger viewers. She’s a good performer, in music and comedy. So’s Kanye. They just get in their own way too much with their OTT antics, actions, and statements. But they’re new school, and they went with the old school pretty well.
      As for the celebrities, many of them are practically recurring cast members. Most of them would’ve been cast members if they weren’t so successful and unavailable for a regular gig. And several of them have been good about showing up for bit parts or one off gigs. These celebs have driven the success of the show as much as anyone.
      I loved the show. I didn’t like every bit, but that is the nature of a live show like this. The entire thing was great, and I really enjoyed it.

  2. Susan says:

    We enjoyed the retrospective, right up until Kanye. We turned the channel, at that point.

  3. Linda says:

    I recorded it and am watching now..with necessary breaks. I have actually laughed out loud a number of times and SNL has rarely made me do that, with this exception – the years of Amy, Tina, Maya and Kristen (in particular). I laughed every week back then.. not so much now, though I”m enjoying the look back. So proud of all the Canadian talent on SNL e.g.; Martin Short, Jim Carrey and Lorne himself.

  4. Tran says:

    Three and a half hours of SNL I’ll never going to get back. Ten more until it reaches 50 and beyond. Where’s Dennis Miller when we need him? And Jon Lovitz is NOT dead.

  5. CactusRose says:

    WTH were they thinking adding that no-talent, worthless Kanye West to this show? That was time that could have been spent on what people tuned in for in the first place – SNL stars and history. Maybe he paid them to let him on. Your comments in the photos section were right on. Sir Paul must not have been having a good night but we should cut him some slack! He’s a BEATLE and has been around a long time! Overall I thought it was an excellent show. So many great memories. I’ve been watching since the beginning. Some years have not been so good, but every show has a few bad years. Name one show that has been on TV continuously for 40 years…..not counting syndicated re-runs, etc? SNL deserved a night to pat itself on the back and they did a great job. Thanks, Lorne Michaels!

  6. Jenna says:

    It seemed a little long at times. And I could have done without some of the music pieces, though I liked Miley Cyrus and Paul Simon.
    But overall I enjoyed the journey back in time, esp with the original Notreadyforprimetime players.
    Congrats on 40 years!

  7. Tran says:

    Hope CSI gets renewed for a proper “final season”.

    • Shackman says:

      Ditto – this cast is great – Ted Danson should have been the only replacement for Grissom

      • drhenning says:

        Technically… Fishburne was not the head of the lab… Catherine took over when Gil left and Ted’s DB took over from Catherine… I actually have enjoyed this crew as much as the old crew… I would hope they give CSI a good sendoff next year… They could cut costs for its last season by having Shue on the sideline most of the season recovering from the shooting… And with Stokes off to San Diego, more savings.. They already got some cost savings this season with Jim Brass sent off to retirement…

        • Portia says:

          I also hope CSI will have a proper final season. Cause yesterday if you noticed, the story ended as if it was teh final episode of the series but it also ended in a way for a continuation.

          Also did any of you notice that there was no killing off of any character as it was informed several weeks ago, when they say a character was going to be killed off? Yesterday I did not see any characters really being killed off, so maybe that is sort of a hope the show will have a proper final season.

          I always like CSI new cast or old cast. Of course Grissom and Catherine are irreplaceables but DB do a good job as well and also the rest of the characters.

          • Marc says:

            As long as they can come up with interesting cases–the whodunit and how it is solved–there is no reason for the show to end. Unlike Miami and New York, they are not nearly as dependent upon contrived, force outside plotlines involving the characters. Like L&O, they are an excellent procedural. No need to end it.

  8. Portia says:

    I missed the SNL anniversary special darn and I wanted to watch it very much now i cant

  9. Danny says:

    Well it was obvious that CSI dipped and did not have high ratings cause ti was against the anniversary of SNL. I mean viewers preferred record CSI to watch it later and watch live the SNL special, cause that was like a no miss especial. If you put it in a balance, I bet SNL would ahve won obviously

  10. David4 says:

    I can see them doing “The Real 40th Anniversary Special” come October just to get ratings like that again!

  11. Glad to see Miley Cyrus actually behaved and sang with no gimmicks. Have not seen those two CSIs, plan to, but never interested in anyone leaving the show…

  12. Joel says:

    Last night my wife went and saw 50 Shades of Grey at the movies. We recorded this to watch together afterwards. It was so disappointing she fell asleep and I missed out on the biggest sure thing of the year. So I’m realllyyyy not happy with this special…..
    I was hoping for reenactments of classic sketches, with the myriad of celebrities playing the roles originally played by the host of the week/cast members that weren’t there. Maybe full clips of old sketches. But the continual montage of punchlines and lines from sketches that I’ve never seen was rather disappointing. I may be the only one who felt this, and I love SNL so I’m quite ok if I am, and everyone else loved it, but it felt like I had shown up to a party that I wasn’t invited to, and no one cared whether I was there or not, they just continued with their own thing.

  13. Angus says:

    Why is it that no matter what the event. (i.e. a public execution) Kanye and his tribe of disfunctionals have to show up. Stop playing up to these losers HW.

  14. Mine says:

    I would have LOVED it if one of the other musical guests jumped on stage and started playing music while Kanye was in the middle of “performing.” (Beck or Taylor Swift maybe? Ooh, or maybe even Beyoncé herself?!?!?)

    That would have been SNL poetic justice!

  15. Danny says:

    I’d be surprised if CBS didn’t given “CSI” a proper send-off. My guess is the series will be renewed for a final, 13-episode season, a la “The Mentalist.” CBS will heavily promote the final season, and perhaps even pair it with a new [likely] hit, “CSI: Cyber,” which will receive added attention after they can promote it with “Oscar-winner Patricia Arquette returns to CBS!”

    • Portia says:

      That is called for sure network marketing. The networks always have everything planned ahead and the exact moment to proceed for the networks unfortunately what it matter most is money and promotion, what the viewers like or wish they do not give a ratz about us the viewers, it is what works for the network not the fans.

  16. Jim J. says:

    Astronomical numbers for the “SNL 40” special.

    But disappointed at the numbers for the “CSI” finale. New series low, 1.1 in the demo and 7 million viewers. Never expected it to underperform, Can’ believe I was rooting for renewal for a show with ratings/viewership that low. Maybe fans of the original CSI were refusing to watch the promos for the new “Cyber” spinoff. Why order a spinoff of a show you’re just gonna doom to cancellation? I’m just gonna boycott “CSI: Cyber”. (Boycott a show – not watch or get invested in it)

    May as well prepare for a cancellation of the original CSI:. The tragedy of the season. No miracle.