Despite a return from one of the show’s most valuable players and the most consistent batch of sketches seen this season, this weekend’s Bill Hader-hosted Saturday Night Live tied as the series’ lowest-rated ever. The numbers have been in decline since last season, and Hader’s episode dropped to a 1.8 average among adults 18 to 49, matching the Charlize Theron-hosted episode from May. That episode even had the added benefit of The Black Keys, whose music can otherwise only be heard if you were to turn on the radio right now or watch a TV commercial.
Still, tempting as it would be to lay everything at the feet of musical guest Hozier, he isn’t solely to blame for the lackluster viewership, any more than he’s to blame for not being a Canadian thrash metal band. One of the likeliest explanations is that live viewing for SNL is simply dwindling, period, as more people opt to wait for sketches to turn up on the Internet the next day. (Or they’ve already caught them at a Groundlings show.)
And of course, Hader’s name appeals primarily to fans of Saturday Night Live itself, not the casual viewers who tune in just to see specific celebrities or bands, then complain about Saturday Night Live. Surely some of those people will tune in to see Jim Carrey on Oct. 25, and then those numbers will be reported as SNL “bouncing back,” as this cycle has perpetuated itself for the past four decades. Still, the news of it hitting its worst-ever ratings should provide ample ammunition for the show’s many critics to deride it, an opportunity that only comes around for them once a week.
On the plus side, at least Dan Cortese sounds like he had a good weekend.