Betty White in SNL
NBC can thank Betty White for being a friend and bringing in big numbers for Saturday Night Live.
White's SNL hosting debut was the No. 1 telecast of the night, topping prime-time programs, and netted an 8.8 rating/21 share to post the late-night sketch-comedy show's best numbers in 18 months, according to early estimates.
Betty White sweet and sassy as always on SNL debut
The Nov. 1, 2008, episode, hosted by Ben Affleck with appearances by then Republican presidential candidate John McCain and Tina Fey
as Sarah Palin, drew a 9.0 rating/20 share.
White's telecast — which featured musical guest Jay-Z
and alums Fey, Amy Poehler
, Molly Shannon
, Maya Rudolph
, Ana Gasteyer
and Rachel Dratch
— earned a 5.1 rating in the 18-to-49 demographic, just shy of the Nov. 1 episode's mark of 5.2.
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Compared with last year's episode this weekend — with host Justin Timberlake and the debut of the "Motherlover" Digital Short — White's episode saw a 66 percent growth in the markets tracked by Nielsen.
Final numbers, including viewer totals, are due Thursday.