SNL Ratings Soar: Highest Since 2002

10/16/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The highly anticipated return of "Saturday Night Live," featuring Tina Fey as Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, delivered the show's highest ratings since 2002, NBC said Sunday.

Saturday's show, hosted by the Olympian swimming sensation Michael Phelps, averaged a 7.4 rating and an 18 share of the available TV viewing audience in Nielsen's 55 metered markets. The overnight ratings will be revised by Nielsen Media Research later in the week.

Illustrating the interest in both Mr. Phelps and the political skewering that viewers expect from "SNL," the episode ranked as "SNL's" most popular since December 2002, when Al Gore hosted the program. NBC said the episode was up 64 percent from last year's season premiere.

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