How Lorne Michaels orchestrated NBC's Adele bonanza

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A version of this story first appeared in the Dec. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

A record 3.38 million albums aren't sold in a week without shrewd promotion. But Adele, 27, attained ubiquity with relatively few U.S. media commitments, each of them on NBC. It's a coup for the network thanks in part to Saturday Night Live impre­sario Lorne Michaels.

READ MORE: Adele's '25' Sales Rise to Over 4 Million in U.S.

"Adele credits her first appearance on SNL as helping launch her in the States," says one insider. "Her relationship with Lorne ended up being really important to NBC being the place for her to launch this record."

29 PHOTOS
Adele through the years
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How Lorne Michaels orchestrated NBC's Adele bonanza
COLOGNE, GERMANY - DECEMBER 06: Adele attends the television show 2015! Menschen, Bilder, Emotionen - RTL Jahresrueckblick on December 6, 2015 in Cologne, Germany. (Photo by Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images)
MAIDSTONE, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 11: Adele performs on the Main Stage on the second day of the Radio 1 Big Weekend at Mote Park on May 11, 2008 in Maidstone, England. (Photo by Rosie Greenway/Getty Images)
LONDON - SEPTEMBER 09: Singer Adele arrives at the Mercury Music Prize 2008 at Grosvenor House Hotel on September 9, 2008 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JANUARY 17: Musician Adele performs at the 9:30 Club on January 17, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: Adele attends the Keep a Child Alive organization's 5th annual Black Ball at The Hammerstein Ballroom on November 13, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Loud/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Adele arrives at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 08: Singer Adele, winner of two awards; Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for 'Chasing Pavements' and Best New Artist, poses in the press room during the 51st Annual Grammy Awards held at the Staples Center on February 8, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 17: Adele performs onstage during 2009 VH1 Divas at Brooklyn Academy of Music on September 17, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
British singer-songwriter Adele poses for a portrait in West Hollywood, Calif., Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28: Singer Adele arrives at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 28: Singer Adele performs onstage during the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Recording artist Adele poses for a portrait Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Adele arrives at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Singer Adele performs onstage at the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 12, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2012 file photo, performer Adele arrives for the Brit Awards 2012 at the O2 Arena in London. Four years after her last album, the singer appears to have teased British television viewers with a snippet of new music, broadcast during an ad break on prime-time TV. The 30-second ad shown Sunday evening, Oct. 18, 2015, during TV talent show "The X Factor" featured Adele's distinctive tones over a black screen on which heartache-filled lyrics appeared. (AP Photo/Jonathan Short, File)
Musician Adele poses with her six trophies at the 54th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 12, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
Adele arrives at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Singer Adele poses in the press room with her best original song in a motion picture award for 'Skyfall' at the Golden Globes awards ceremony in Beverly Hills on January 13, 2013. AFP PHOTO/Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Singer Adele speaks onstage at the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Singer Adele, winner of the Best Original Song award for 'Skyfall,' poses in the press room during the Oscars held at Loews Hollywood Hotel on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Singer Adele arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Singer Adele performs onstage during the Oscars held at the Dolby Theatre on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 16: Adele is seen on November 16, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gardiner Anderson/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 20: Singer Adele is seen in Soho on November 20, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Matthew McConaughey' Episode 1689 -- Pictured: Musical guest Adele performs on November 21, 2015 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0373 -- Pictured: (l-r) Singer Adele plays 'Box of Lies' with host Jimmy Fallon on November 23, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0374 -- Pictured: (l-r) Host Jimmy Fallon and The Roots sing with Adele during the Music Room bit on November 24, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 24: Adele is seen on November 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Gardiner Anderson/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
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The singer, whose 25 is already the top-selling album of 2015, is not wrong to acknowledge SNL. The venerable variety show has long prided itself on introducing new musical acts, and Adele's October 2008 debut coincided with Sarah Palin's infamous appearance alongside impersonator Tina Fey (a landmark 17 million tuned in to the episode, and Adele's first LP, 19 -- released in January of that year -- immediately shot to No. 1 on the iTunes chart).

So she repaid the favor Nov. 21 -- giving SNL its highest ratings (Donald Trump excluded) in nearly a year -- and then some.

READ MORE: Adele, Jimmy Fallon and The Roots Perform "Hello" With Classroom Instruments

The singer also performed on Today and The Tonight Show and will finish her NBC tour Dec. 14 with the primetime special Adele Live in New York City. Michaels and Adele's camp (including longtime flack Benny Tarantini) began speaking in June once Columbia Records settled on a fall release for 25. Label boss Rob Stringer was said to be keen on taping a concert special at the network as well -- and, after Michaels and Adele dined in London later this summer, the all-NBC plan was formalized.

TV execs are keen to see if album sales can translate to viewers. Broadcast net concert specials have been considered passe in recent years --but if anyone can buck that trend, it's probably Adele.

Check out more from "Saturday Night Live" in the gallery below!

31 PHOTOS
Saturday Night Live iconic moments, SNL
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How Lorne Michaels orchestrated NBC's Adele bonanza
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Durang, Dana Carvey as Church Lady during the 'Church Chat' skit on October 11, 1986 -- Photo by: Reggie Lewis/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 18 -- Pictured: Steve Martin during 'KingTut' skit on April 22, 1978 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 5 -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Ferrell as Craig Buchanan, Cheri Oteri as Aranna during the 'Football Game' skit on November 11, 1995 -- (Photo by: Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 6 -- Pictured: (l-r) Buck Henry as Mr. Dantley, John Belushi as Samurai Futaba during 'Samurai Stockbroker' skit on 10/30/1976 (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 4 -- Aired 10/27/1990 -- Pictured: (l-r) Patrick Swayze as Adrian, Chris Farley as Barney during 'Chippendales Audition' skit (Photo by Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE - Episode 14 - Pictured: (l-r) Will Ferrell as emcee, Molly Shannon as Mary Katherine Gallagher, Elle MacPherson as Melanie Harvey, Cheri Oteri as Shelly Peterbuilt during the 'Fresh Face Modeling Contest' skit on February 24, 1996 - Photo by: (Al Levine/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gail Matthius, Eddie Murphy during the 'Weekend Update' on February 7, 1981 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Air Date 10/11/2003 -- Pictured: (l-r) Justin Timberlake as Robin Gibb, Jimmy Fallon as Barry Gibb during 'The Barry Gibb Talk Show' skit on October 11, 2003 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Aired 02/08/2001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek, Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery during 'Jeopardy' skit (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Josh Brolin' Episode 1536 -- Pictured: (l-r) Andy Samberg, Mark Wahlberg during the 'Wahlberg's Confrontation' skit on October 18, 2008 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Aired 10/02/2004 -- Pictured: Rachel Dratch as Debbie Downer during 'Debbie Downer' skit (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 20 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mike Myers as Linda Richman, Heather Locklear as Lila Klein during the 'Coffee Talk' skit on May 14, 1994 -- (Photo by: Gerry Goodstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Air Date 10/13/2001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jimmy Fallon as Dave, Rachel Dratch as Virginia Klarvin, Will Ferrell as Roger Klarvin during the 'Hot Tub Lovers' skit on October 13, 2001 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Pictured: Eddie Murphy as Mr. Robinson during the 'Mister Robinson's Neighborhood' skit on October 15, 1983 -- (Photo by: Raymond Bonar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 7 -- Air Date 12/03/1994 -- Pictured: (l-r) Norm MacDonald, Adam Sandler during 'Weekend Update' on December 3, 1994 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - OCTOBER 3: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Singer Sinead O'Connor rips up a picture of Pope John Paul II October 3, 1992 on the TV show 'Saturday Night Live'. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Pictured: Dan Aykroyd as Julie Child during 'The French Chef' skit on December 9, 1978 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 19 -- Aired 05/14/2005 -- Pictured: (center) Will Ferrell as Gene Frenkle onstage with musical guests Queens of the Stone Age (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Air Date 12/08/2001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Mick Jagger as himself, Jimmy Fallon as Mick Jaggers reflection during the 'Mick & Mick' skit on December 8, 2001 (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Aired 12/16/2006 -- Pictured: (l-r) Andy Samberg as guy, Justin timberlake as guy during 'Dick in a Box' skit on December 16, 2006 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 11 -- Air Date 01/24/1976 -- Pictured: Chevy Chase during Weekend Update on January 24, 1976 -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Pictured: (l-r) Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin during the 'Weekend Update' on October 14, 1978 -- Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 3 -- Pictured: Bill Murray during the 'Weekend Update' on October 21, 1978 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Pictured: Kevin Nealon during the 'Weekend Update' skit on October 5, 1991 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1 -- Air Date 09/24/1994 -- Pictured: (l-r) Norm MacDonald, Laura Kightlinger during 'Weekend Update' on September 24, 1994 (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Aired 02/08/2001 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tina Fey, Jimmy Fallon during 'Weekend Update' (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 5 -- Aired 11/12/2005 -- Pictured: (l-r) Tina Fey, Amy Poehler during 'Weekend Update' on November 12, 2005 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 6 -- Aired 11/18/2006 -- Pictured: (l-r) Amy Poehler, Seth Meyers during 'Weekend Update' on November 18, 2006 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 1585 'Paul Rudd' -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill Hader as Stefon, Seth Meyers during 'Weekend Update' -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Chris Pratt' Episode 1663 -- Pictured: (l-r) Colin Jost and Michael Che during the 'Weekend Update' skit on September 27, 2014 -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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