Justin Timberlake is bringing ratings back: His episode of "Saturday Night Live" this past weekend was NBC's highest rated show of 2013, excluding sports and the Golden Globes.
That's a testament both to the "Suit and Tie" singer's popularity and the troubles of the rest of NBC's lineup. The network, which tied for third last year after years of languishing in first, managed to score the highest ratings of the fall in the key 18-49 demographic.
But NBC has fallen to third place since, averaging a 2.5 rating in primetime for the 2012-13 season overall, behind first-place CBS and Fox. Every network is down from this time last year except for CBS.
Timberlake's "SNL" episode averaged a 3.4 rating/14 share in the demo and 8.4 million total viewers -- the show's best numbers since the Jan. 7, 2012, episode hosted by Charles Barkley, with musical guest Kelly Clarkson. (That episode might also have aided by a primetime NFL playoff game, which preceded and delayed "SNL.")
Timberlake's "SNL" stint also tied for the sixth highest-rated primetime telecast among ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in the demo for the week.
The March 9 episode was Timberlake's fifth turn at hosting the series. He was joined in his opening bit with other fifth-timers Paul Simon, Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Candice Bergen, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin and Dan Aykroyd.
Prior to the March 9 Timberlake episode, the season high for "SNL" was the Jan. 26 episode hosted by "The Voice" coach Adam Levine, which drew a 2.7/10 in the demo and drew 7.3 million total viewers.
The Hollywood Reporter was the first to note the ratings news.