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'SNL' Premiere Soars 31% Over 2015 Level to Biggest Rating Since 2008

While it famously airs live, time-shifting helped Saturday Night Live's 42nd season premiere soar 31% over last year's season debut to an average of 8.3 million viewers, the show's highest premiere-week level since 2008.

Citing Nielsen numbers, NBC said the show had the best season launch since Tina Fey rolled out her Sarah Palin imitation, Michael Phelps hosted and Lil Wayne appeared as musical guest back on Sept. 13, 2008. That episode averaged 10.15 million total viewers.

In adults 18-49, last Saturday's premiere averaged a 2.34 rating and an 11 share, representing a 29% gain over a year ago. It’s the top-rated season premiere in 18-49 since SNL on Sept. 28, 2013, notched a 2.39.

NBC said SNL adds a lot of viewers after the live linear airing. Last season, on average, it added 49% in the demo and 35% in total viewers between the live-same day and the live-plus-seven-day windows.