Saturday Night Live will air live across all U.S. markets for its final four episodes of the season, it was revealed by Uproxx on Thursday, March 16, 2017.
NBC’s sketch comedy series will return from hiatus on April 8 with host Louis CK and musical guest The Chainsmokers. Beginning with the April 15 episode, with host Jimmy Fallon, the series will air live in all four time zones across the U.S. Chris Pine will host on May 6 and Sean Spicer-impersonator Melissa McCarthy will host the May 13 episode. The May 20 season 42 finale will be hosted by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
— Saturday Night Live (@nbcsnl) March 16, 2017
“SNL — enjoying its most popular season in two decades — is part of the national conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the west and mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the east and central time zones,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment in a statement. “That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time. Kudos to Lorne Michaels, the producers and cast for making SNL one of the most relevant and anticipated shows in the zeitgeist.”
The episodes will broadcast live at 11:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 p.m. Central, 9:30 p.m. Mountain, and 8:30 p.m. Pacific. The episodes will also repeat in their usual 11:30 p.m. Mountain and Pacific timeslots. Too early to tell if this late-season experiment will continue when the show returns for its 43rd season in the fall.
No word yet if Global will follow a similar broadcast strategy in Canada, where the show is also enjoying a rating resurgence. Corus Entertainment revealed last month that the show’s February 11th broadcast became the most-watched episode of the series for all key demos since 2004. 1.7 million viewers tuned in to see 17-time host Alec Baldwin play President Donald Trump while Melissa McCarthy returned for an appearance as Sean Spicer. SNL videos have also been a hit for GlobalTV.com and Global Go. The Feb. 11 episode also marked a five-year high for NBC.
On Tuesday, March 14, it was announced that NBC is set to spin-off the Weekend Update segment into a series of four half-hour specials, which will debut on Thursday, August 10 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. “SNL is having its best season in a quarter of a century — how many shows can say that?! — so we didn’t want them to take the summer off,” said NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt in a separate statement. “We’re thrilled to have Colin Jost and Michael Che continuing their unique brand of news with fresh Weekend Update shows in primetime this August.”
Weekend Update in primetime is nothing new. The first incarnation took place during the 2000-2001 season when NBC needed to fill time following “super-sized” episodes of Friends with Tina Fey and Jimmy Fallon anchoring the 20-minute segments. In 2008, NBC debuted the 30-minute version which followed The Office for three nights in October with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler and guest stars Bill Murray, Chris Parnell, Will Ferrell and Tina Fey. NBC ordered three more specials for the start of the 2009 television season with anchor Seth Meyers and guest stars Amy Poehler, Darrell Hammond, Megan Fox and Maya Rudolph. Two election-themed episodes aired in 2012 with anchor Seth Meyers.