The Super Bowl seems to be just about the only time anyone is actually excited about commercials, and TV network execs are well aware of it. NBC has taken yet another step away from ad-saturated air time with its announcement today that it will broadcast Saturday Night Live next season with 30 percent fewer commercials.
For viewers, this should be a welcome change; it means two entire commercial pods being cut out. In their place, viewers can expect to see more program content, albeit some sponsored by advertisers. SNL is no stranger to branded sketches, though, so at least it doesn’t sound like the audience will be blindsided by an unfamiliar form of advertising.
The late-night show’s linear ratings have been on the decline in recent years, as Deadline points out, even as skits continue to be popular online. Cutting down on commercial break time is one way the network hopes to bring viewers’ eyes back to live broadcasts. The show is called Saturday Night Live, after all.
“As the decades have gone by, commercial time has grown,” said Lorne Michaels, SNL creator and executive producer, in a statement. “This will give time back to the show and make it easier to watch the show live.”
NBC has been looking to experiment with advertising lately. The SNL switch-up comes just days after the network revealed that June’s two-hour Aquarius season 2 premiere would be broadcast commercial-free. The NBCUniversal subsidiary isn’t alone, either. Multiple major media and entertainment companies have been forced to readjust their ad strategies as audiences look to ad-free options like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and others.
It’s hard not to get excited as a viewer, but you can bet that network execs are feeling some pressure. It’s up to them to find their ideal balance between making audiences happy and bringing in revenue.