It's hard to imagine better timing for the 44th season premiere of Saturday Night Live. Just two days after the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee's Ford-Kavanaugh hearings, the NBC sketch comedy returned to the air with a cold-open segment that focused on that particular political circus.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was, as you might expect, the focus of the opener—but the big surprise was that special guest Matt Damon, rather than an SNL cast member, played him. The studio audience seemed thrilled, and social media exploded. And of this writing, the cold open, as posted to the official "SNL" YouTube channel, has racked up more than 11 million views.
To gauge viewer response to both the broadcast and online video versions of Matt Damon's star turn, we worked with social video analytics company Tubular Labs and emotion measurement AI company Canvs.
But first, some background: According to Tubular, there’s been a voracious appetite for clips related to the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings. Since Thursday, videos related to the topic that were uploaded to Facebook received 283 million views, while YouTube videos on the subject have been viewed 121 million times.
Looking specifically at the SNL cold open clip, it’s generated 3.9 million views on Facebook and more than 12 million views on YouTube since it was posted early Sunday morning.
According to Canvs, positive emotions dominated during both the SNL premiere on NBC (which generated 48,771 Emotional Reactions) and the cold open clip that SNL uploaded to YouTube (10,760 ERs), with people primarily expressing love and laughter around the show.
Matt Damon, naturally, drove the bulk of emotional conversation for both.
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