Justin Timberlake returned for his fifth time hosting Saturday Night Live. His appearance, and the slew of cameos that accompanied it, gave a sizable boost in ratings–ratings which are a season high for the late night comedy show. Preliminary Nielsen figures give the episode 5.9 rating among metered-market households and a 15 share. That’s the largest haul for the NBC series in 14 months, since Charles Barkley hosted in January, 2012 with Kelly Clarkston as musical guest.
In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, “SNL” averaged a 3.7 rating among adults 18-49 — another high not achieved since Barkley.
Though he has made several cameos on “SNL” in the past two years, Saturday marked Timberlake’s first time hosting since May 2011. That episode brought 9.8 million viewers and 3.5 rating with adults 18-49 when final numbers came in.
The current season high was set by host Adam Levine in January. With final returns in, the broadcast pulled a 2.7 rating with adults 18-49 and 7.3 million viewers — and Timberlake is on track to eclipse both measures.
Final ratings for Timberlake’s “SNL” will be available later in the week.