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Saturday Night Live to have fewer ads, more sponsored sketches

Saturday Night Live

As Netflix’s autoplay feature introduces more and more people to the luxury that is content without interruptions, the standard commercial break on TV is looking increasingly inconvenient. DVR users have learned how to glide past ads with well-timed remote usage, and Hulu and on-demand viewers can try to ignore unskippable breaks. But now Saturday Night Live—always a cultural trendsetter, with its many “politicians are dumb” observations—has come up with a new solution to commercial fatigue. According to Advertising Age (via Variety), NBC’s long-running sketch show will simply run fewer ads—a full 30 percent fewer, to be exact.

This change will go into effect next season, and it will cut two whole commercial breaks from each live broadcast of the show. Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live’s creator and executive producer, said that the smaller amount of commercial breaks will “give time back to the show and make it easier to watch the show live.” However, he doesn’t say anything about how this will impact actually performing the show live, as SNL tends to use its commercial breaks to change costumes and get new sets ready. This means there could be a slightly increased emphasis on pre-taped segments, but we probably won’t know if that’s the plan until the new season premieres in the fall.


Along with the smaller amount of commercial breaks, though, this arrangement will also bring more “original branded content” to Saturday Night Live, which is advertiser-lingo for sponsored sketches or other advertiser tie-ins. It’s unclear what shape these will take, but Variety notes that SNL aired three Pepsi-branded “MacGruber” sketches in 2009 that will probably be the model for this kind of thing. So when the Californians interrupt their hilarious gags about the Pacific Coast Highway to talk about the benefits of probiotic yogurt, you can thank those two fewer commercial breaks.

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