While most of what took home Emmys this past weekend involved streaming services and high-end cable channels, when it came to the broadcast networks, NBC found themselves with quite a bit of hardware at the end of the night as well. Their winning streak came on the back of Saturday Night Live, the 40+ year old TV standby, who won nearly every category they were eligible for. Buoyed by industry approval, NBC just announced that next year, SNL goes live coast-to-coast for the entire season.
While Saturday Night Live has always taped live on the East Coast and aired live for the eastern and central time zones (that's part of why it can be such an unexpected pleasure to watch), those in the Mountain and Pacific time zones have always watched on tape delay. Last year, with ratings up, and the new administration giving the show an added boost, it was announced the final four episodes of the season would be broadcast live all the way across the country, meaning those in the PST would get to watch live... at 8:30 p.m., instead of having to wait three hours. This way, all four time zones would get to experience Saturday Night Live truly live.
To make sure that nothing went too badly, they brought in big names who were used to doing improv and taping live for hours, including alumni Jimmy Fallon and Melissa McCarthy, WWE's former star Future President Mr. The Rock, Dwayne Johnson, and actor Chris Pine.
It was such a success they're doing it again -- this time, all year. As Lorne Michaels revealed, part of the reason for this was Twitter -- East and Central time zone viewers were basically spoiling it for the Western half of the country.
One was [NBC Entertainment Chief] Bob Greenblatt wanted it, and two was that social media was so [focused] on the show that you couldn't — if you were following Twitter you were hearing about it before you could see it... we'd be divided into two days, there'd be a lot of action on Saturday and then another group on Sunday, and it just seemed like that's what's driving things and to get people to stay tuned for a broadcast, it's better if it's live and they're seeing it at the same time.
It's not that surprising that Saturday Night Live would do this as a way to combat Twitter spoilers. As many around the world know, Game of Thrones does much of the same thing -- doing a simulcast airing of GoT at 9 p.m. ET around the world (so, 2 a.m. BST in the U.K., 11 a.m. AEST in Australia, etc). Ironically, the only time zone they don't simulcast in? MST and PST in the U.S. SNL beat them to it.
Saturday Night Live may have won a ton of awards, but it's still working to shake off the bad press of last fall when they brought Donald Trump on to guest star, which many felt was "normalizing" him as a candidate. Since then, they seem to be working overtime to piss him off, which may also explain why the need to go live around the U.S. at the same time. If the president's tweeting about it, but it's not on in your timezone for two and a half more hours, that's just not fair.
The Season 43 premiere features actor Ryan Gosling, who is promoting his new movie Blade Runner 2049 (which also happens to star Harrison Ford, so we're hoping for a cameo). The musical guest is JAY-Z, who will be doing numbers from this summer's 4:44 album. (And yes, we're all hoping for a Beyoncé cameo from that too.)
The episode is scheduled for Sept. 30 on NBC, airing at (deep breath) 11:30 p.m. ET/10:30 p.m. CT/9:30 p.m. MT/8:30 pm. PT. We'll be watching.