Thanks to Tina Fey and Sarah Palin, we’re all watching Saturday Night Live again. And since of us are watching it on our own schedule (online, DVR), it’s about time ‘SNL’ crawled out from under the NBC.com and Hulu banners to get its very own online presence. The news was broken, oddly, via ESPN.com’s Bill Simmons, on a podcast with SNL head writer Seth Meyers (download here, skip to 22 minute mark) last week. B&C moves the story along today, noting that there are still some big question marks hanging over the site, like the extent to which it will dip into the archives, and how they plan to make money off of it. There’s also come concern that the project won’t launch in time to take advantage of the pre-election buzz.
Nonetheless, SNL has a lot to gain by really opening up the vault. Everyone has their favourite SNL clips of yore. Just yesterday we tried to find their take on the 1992 VP debate (remember Admiral Stockdale?), but we spent most of the time poking around on YouTube (there we found clips of the real thing, which was just as funny as SNL’s version). More generally, SNL’s sketch-length videos just work for the web.
To some extent, NBC has already figured that out in the last year, at both Hulu and NBC.com But the most intriguing part about the proposed SNL site, at least the version Meyers describes, would be the chance to watch skits that don’t make it on the air. We know what you’re thinking: Too many SNL sketches suck, anyway: Who wants to see the ones that don’t make the cut? But different pieces get cut for different reasons, and it’s entirely possible there’s some great stuff there. On the Simmons podcast, for instance, Meyers describes a sketch they cut from a show this season in which James Franco played Howard Dean and Fred Armisen played Liberace. The premise: The two of them were on a roadtrip. Doesn’t that sound a little bit interesting to you?
B&C quotes an insider concerned that the site will end up like Funny or Die, marginally popular but not a financial home run. But that misses the point. An SNL video site doesn’t need to be a smash hit. For now and for some time to come, TV will be the moneymaker. Anything it can get from the web is just an added bonus. It’s one of those rare situations where the old media side has the more favourable cost structure. In the meantime, you can still find recent SNL clips on NBC.com, where they compete against bonus scenes from this week’s The Biggest Loser.
Also, since we can’t find a video of our favourite all-time clip, here’s a link to the transcript of The Sports Cruise (’94). Until that’s online, enjoy a more recent favourite: Taco Town.