Jimmy Fallon, Justin Timberlake


Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake gave NBC an impressive early Christmas gift.

The duo's Dec. 21 episode of Saturday Night Live scored big in the ratings for the network, delivering the longrunning series' best numbers in almost two years. 

With Fallon as a host and Timberlake as a musical guest (though one could argue he served as a co-host!), the episode averaged a 6.3 rating in Nielsen's 56 metered markets, with a 3.9 ratings in the all-important adults 18-49 demo in the 25 markets with Local People Meters. 

The duo's cheer-inducing ratings are the series' best since the Jan. 7, 2012 episode, which was hosted by Charles Barkley and featured Kelly Clarkson as the musical guest and averaged a 7.0 rating and a 4.1 ratings in the adults 18-49.

Even more impressive? It's SNL's highest-rated Christmas edition since its Dec. 18, 2004 episode, which was hosted by Robert DeNiro with musical guest Destiny's Child

Aside from Timberlake's assistance, Fallon, an SNL alum, received a helping hand from pals such as Madonna and Sir Paul McCartney. "Thank you SNL. Thank you @. Thank you guys for watching! So fun!!' Fallon tweeted after the show. "Thank you Paul and Barry and Madonna. I almost can't believe this tweet.  ," he added.

Fallon and Timberlake's ratings success puts the pressure on for Drake, 2014's first host, who will also serve as the musical guest for the Jan. 18 edition. Fingers crossed for a lot of Degrassi: The Next Generation spoofs. (Drake acted on the Canadian teen drama for eight years.) 

(E! and Saturday Night Live are part of the NBCUniversal family.)

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