First, and most obviously, Timberlake lifts all ratings boats. He is so popular that he could boost National Geographic's cable channel. Getting Timberlake, who is releasing his first album in many years, was a double coup. Having wall to wall Timberlake was a shrewd bit of programming.
It also proves that SNL is not dead. The show has been dismissed so many times since the initial Belushi-Aykroyd-Gilda incarnation in the 1970s.
But it is alive and sort of well -- with the right guest.
It doesn't particularly matter, either, if the current hard-working SNL cast can carry a show on its own. Having Justin Timberlake on your side is enough -- for one weekend, at least.
Get the latest headlines from Jon Friedmans Media Matrix delivered to your inbox every day.