NEW YORK (AP) -- Television viewers were clearly curious about the anniversary party that "Saturday Night Live" threw for itself on Sunday, with more than 23 million viewers tuning in.
The Nielsen company said it was the highest-rated entertainment telecast on NBC since an "ER" episode in 2004, excluding programs that followed the Super Bowl. It was also the third most-watched episode of "Saturday Night Live" ever, though it couldn't top the 32 million people who watched the show's 15th anniversary party.
A red carpet special interviewing stars entering the party was a top 10 show last week, too, Nielsen said.
It wasn't enough to make NBC the most-viewed network last week, however, though it did win among the 18-to-49-year-old viewers that advertisers crave. CBS' popular lineup of regular shows gave that network a depth that NBC couldn't match.
For the week, CBS averaged 9.3 million viewers in prime time. NBC had 7.8 million, ABC had 6.2 million, Fox had 4.9 million, Univision had 2.8 million, the CW had 1.6 million, Telemundo had 1.2 million and ION Television had 1.1 million.
TNT was the most popular cable network, helped by the NBA All-Star game and surrounding festivities, averaging 2.54 million viewers in prime time. The Disney Channel had 2.12 million viewers, AMC had 1.771 million, Fox News Channel had 1.767 million and Discovery had 1.6 million.
Behind Lester Holt's first week as substitute anchor for the suspended Brian Williams, NBC's "Nightly News" topped the evening newscasts with an average of 9.43 million viewers. ABC's "World News Tonight" had 9.03 million and the "CBS Evening News" had 7.63 million.
For the week of Feb. 9-15, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: "Saturday Night Live: 40th Anniversary," NBC, 23.14 million; "NCIS," CBS, 18.77 million; "NCIS: New Orleans," CBS, 16.19 million; "The Walking Dead," AMC, 12.27 million; "Empire," Fox, 11.96 million; "Scorpion," CBS, 11.86 million; "Blue Bloods," CBS, 11.46 million; "The Big Bang Theory," CBS, 11.35 million; "SNL: 40th, Red Carpet," NBC, 11.32 million; "American Idol" (Wednesday), Fox, 10.66 million.
ABC is owned by The Walt Disney Co. CBS is owned by CBS Corp. CW is a joint venture of Warner Bros. Entertainment and CBS Corp. Fox is owned by 21st Century Fox. NBC and Telemundo are owned by Comcast Corp. ION Television is owned by ION Media Networks.