While Tyrion Lannister may end up saving the Seven Kingdoms, he could not do much to help save Saturday Night Live‘s flatline ratings.
The star Game of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage hosted SNL last night with comeback musical guest Gewn Stefani. His appearance was to promote the next season of HBO’s hit fantasy-war show, which ranks as the paid-subscription service’s most popular series as well as one of the most highly-watched shows worldwide. Dinklage was the first host to air since Saturday Night Live went on break following the March 12th episode, and it was the hope of the struggling satire program that with Dinklage’s star-power would come a cache of Lannister-loving viewers.
That’s not to say that there weren’t a handful of excited Game of Thrones fans.
— ℘ąıɠɛ ცųཞɬơŋ (@GirlnMagicCity) April 2, 2016
I’ve waited YEARS for this. Peter Dinklage on #SNL tonight!!
— Danielle Landry (@DandyLandry) April 3, 2016
Overall, however, the ratings for the night were staggeringly unimpressive. It balanced a mere 1.9 rating among 18-49 year-old New Yorkers, based against a 4.0 rating overall among general households, Deadline reports. Those numbers made no rise over the ratings from the preceding episode, hosted by Ariana Grande, though her episode spawned the popular vocal-impressions “Tidal” skit (that has since gathered over ten million viewers, far more than the actual aired episode did). The previous episode before Grande’s, hosted by Jonah Hill, received the exact same number among the general population–4.0–and even less among the locals; a 1.8 rating. In general, Dinklage, despite the power he wields as a lead actor on one of the most-watched series in television, did not boost Saturday Night Live‘s viewership one bit.
Of course, poor viewership does not mean that Dinklage did not perform noteworthy skits for his premiere hosting gig. Dinklage starred in a Game of Thrones ‘HBO Sneak Peek’ block alongside Kate McKinnon, impersonating Dinklage’s co-star Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Taran Killam as Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). The three gave faux insight into the special effects for the season, especially the ones behind the dark terror of a dragon, Drogon. Dinklage pointed out that Bobby Moynihan, dressed in a motion-capture suit with wings on his arms and a dragon’s head on a pole sticking out from Moynihan’s neck, was one of the great advantages of season six’s behind the scenes flair. The skit shows the lackluster dragon actor making the other actors uncomfortable with intense stares, ad-libbing his own lines, and even wetting himself instead of getting out of the suit to use the bathroom.
It was a wholly satiric skit in SNL‘s usual post-Samberg digital-short style. There just were not a lot of people to see it when it happened.
The basement ratings of the Dinklage/Stefani episode don’t bode well for the 41 year-old comedy program, which has had its dry periods in the past that nearly led to cancellation. Of course, it is usually the election seasons, which always produce the most content for SNL, that lifts the show out of its funk. Even the 2016 election season hasn’t done that yet for this season of SNL, and if Game of Thrones, which achieved 8.1 million viewers in its season five finale, can’t save Saturday Night Live‘s ratings, it begs the question: what will?