Saturday Night Live wrapped up its 47th season on NBC this past Saturday. And while the biggest constant for the long-running sketch comedy show is that it’s always changing, it also remains a consistent draw for both audiences and advertisers.
Below, we take a look at how SNL performed by TV ad impressions and its social video viewership, using network and show TV ad impressions insights via iSpot.tv, and online video views via Tubular Labs.
A Top 15 Program for NBC by TV Ad Impressions
SNL has been an institution for NBC for nearly five decades. For its 47th season — October 2, 2021 through May 21, 2022 — the program was No. 15 by TV ad impressions delivered, with over 3.0 billion, or 1.39% of the total on NBC during first-airing programming, according to data from iSpot.
The show stacks up well when compared to programs appearing across all four major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) as well. Across its 47th season, Saturday Night Live was No. 4 among comedy and variety shows on the Big Four, with 11.0% of impressions, and the only one in the top five to air just once per week. Narrowing things to just primetime and late fringe p.m. dayparts on those networks, SNL sits at No. 41 for non-sports or news programs — with 0.94% of impressions.
Which brands were the beneficiaries of those impressions? Progressive was the most-seen advertiser during SNL all season, with 1.79% of impressions, followed by Disney Plus (1.62%), Kohl's (1.60%), T-Mobile (1.35%), and Target (1.35%). Department stores led the way by industries, accounting for 6.89% of impressions during the season, but theatrical movies (6.70%) and streaming services (5.93%) were close behind.
The entertainment emphasis for advertisers also shows the value of SNL’s audience for both streaming subscribers and moviegoers. And interestingly, a large portion of those impressions were actually for services and movies not owned by NBCUniversal. Disney Plus, Warner Bros., and Apple TV Plus all had more impressions during the show than Universal Pictures or Peacock did. The six most-seen streaming or theatrical release ads during SNL this season were all non-NBCU entities as well, led by MGM’s spot for Licorice Pizza.
Over 5 Billion Minutes Watched Across Facebook and YouTube
For years, Saturday Night Live has leaned into the evolution of its viewership, uploading sketches to social video platforms to encourage audiences to watch and share individual sketches — whether they actually tuned in when it originally aired or not.
Over the course of the show’s 47th season, global viewers watched over 5 billion minutes of SNL highlights on YouTube and Facebook, according to Tubular Audience Ratings. That includes a monthly high of more than 813 million minutes in October 2021 alone. Since the start of 2022, audiences have been tuning in for an average of more than 500 million minutes across those two platforms each month. About 20% of those minutes watched are coming from viewers under 25 years old.
In April 2022, SNL was 13th among U.S. broadcast, cable, radio and film creators by minutes watched, coming in behind Jimmy Kimmel Live (564.2 million minutes) and ahead of Inside Edition (431.4 million). Among NBCU-owned creators, Saturday Night Live was only behind MSNBC (over 1 billion minutes), Telemundo’s Caso Cerrado (827.3 million) and NBC News (801.9 million).
Across YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, SNL had 794 million video views this season, led by October’s Squid Game spoof, with over 13.6 million views. Of the 10 most-watched videos uploaded by the show this season, four featured Kim Kardashian (who hosted in October), and six featured now-outgoing cast member – and Kim Kardashian’s current boyfriend – Pete Davidson.
Just three of the top 10 videos were pre-filmed sketches, led by the aforementioned Squid Game segment. While “Weekend Update” has been one of the show’s most popular elements for some time, just one of the show’s top 20 social videos were from that segment (this bit about Will Smith and Chris Rock received 7.3 million views). Just one of SNL’s 20 most-watched – this “Republican or Not” skit with 4.6 million views – was inherently political in nature. ■
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John Cassillo is an analyst and contributor with TV[R]EV.