In a brassy and potentially savvy move, Saturday Night Live is paring down its commercial breaks.
NBC revealed to Ad Age that it plans to cut roughly 30 per cent of ads for SNL‘s next season, replacing them with what the network calls “limited branded content pods” that’ll offer marketers another option.
Linda Yaccarino, chairman of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBC Universal, says the pods will partner SNL with potential advertisers to create original content for the show. (She says this will happen no more than six times a year, but is also not a one-time thing.)
“This will be weekly and ongoing,” Yaccarino said to Ad Age. “This is a show that knows who its audience is, and can capture and nurture it.”
Yaccarino says that the existing audience for SNL skews younger, and as a result, it expects a more enjoyable experience with fewer commercials. Many pundits are theorizing that this move is due to streaming services like Netflix, which offer essentially commercial-free programming.
Also, who’s to stop SNL fans from watching the best clips of the night the next day on YouTube? NBC most likely wants to move YouTube eyeballs back to the TV screen, but the lateness of the show’s start time (11:30 p.m. ET) may put a dent in audience interest as well.
“As the decades have gone by, commercial time has grown,” Lorne Michaels, creator and executive producer of SNL, said in a statement. “This will give time back to the show and make it easier to watch the show live.”
Ad Age reports that around 6.5 million people watch SNL‘s original broadcast “live,” with 2.2 million people subscribing to the show’s YouTube page. These numbers are very similar to its ratings from last season, so really, NBC has nothing to lose and everything to gain.