NBC has announced that next season, SNL will feature 30 percent fewer commercials, cutting two commercial breaks during each episode. The idea is that it will make the show easier to watch live for those of us who suffer through one commercial break after another (also known as nap time).
It’s a mixed blessing for a couple of reasons. For one, SNL will make up the loss in revenue with branded content. In other words, branded sketches and pre-taped segments will be paid for by advertisers. This is not exactly novel: Branded content is fairly routine on the Internet these days, and there are ways that SNL can even be clever about it, as Community and 30 Rock, for instance, have done in the past. It’s not even new for SNL, which has featured cast members playing themselves in commercials that air during the episodes and are often confused for SNL parody ads.
The other upside/downside is that it leaves more time for more and longer sketches. For a show that routinely features sketches that run too long, this is not exactly good news. Moreover, SNL has a hard enough time filling the existing show with a full roster of quality sketches. An additional six minutes may dilute episodes even mores, since one or two of those cut-for-time sketches will make it into each episode.
It is, however, good news for cast members, especially those with less screen time, as it will give them more opportunities to appear in each episode, which hopefully will mean more airtime for Sasheer Zamata. It also means more airtime potential for Kyle Mooney and Jon Rudnitsky, and nobody really wants that.