NBC’s long-running sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live and its 42nd season is enjoying something rarely seen in modern television: a ratings resurgence. Not only are the 18-49 ratings the highest they’ve been in nearly eight years, its average of 11 million viewers makes the season the show’s most watched in 24 years. This is largely due to Saturday Night Live’s biting impressions of President Donald Trump and his controversial cabinet members. Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of the 45th President has especially drew both critical and fan praise, as well as highly-publicized criticism from Trump himself.
With this in mind, it was only a matter of time before NBC capitalized on Saturday Night Live and its newfound resurgence, and it was previously rumored that the network would take perhaps the sketch show’s most enduring portion, Weekend Update, and spin it off into its own weekly show. Now, the rumors have become fact, as NBC has officially ordered a spin off series centered on Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update portion.
Per Deadline, NBC will be airing a Weekend Update weekly show that includes both current hosts, Michael Che and Colin Jost. Although it was initially believed that the show would premiere in the fall, NBC will instead be airing Weekend Update during the summer for an initial run of four weeks. Current Saturday Night Live cast members are expected to make periodic appearances as well. The Chairman of NBC Entertainment, Robert Greenblatt, had this to say about both Saturday Night Live’s ratings and the Weekend Update spinoff:
“SNL is having its best season in a quarter of a century — how many shows can say that?! — so we didn’t want them to take the summer off. We’re thrilled to have Colin Jost and Michael Che continuing their unique brand of news with fresh Weekend Update shows in primetime this August.”
It’s unclear at this point if the Weekend Update spinoff will spell the end of the segment’s appearance on the main Saturday Night Live show, but the fact that the show will air in the summer when Saturday Night Live is on break (as well as Greenblatt’s comments above) means the more likely scenario is that the segment will be pulling double duty, should its spinoff experiment run in the summer prove successful. Regardless, this move by NBC may seem a little odd, given the plethora of available late night shows that pretty much perform the same purpose as Weekend Update. Given that the show will air earlier in the evening, however, it’s possible the network is trying to cater toward those who don’t stay up late.
Some fans may be none too pleased by this move by NBC, as it could both cheapen the Weekend Update portion of Saturday Night Live and potentially lead to staleness and oversaturation. Either way, it does make sense that NBC would want to cash in on Saturday Night Live’s newfound popularity - and spinning off a long-running segment of the show is a smart move, on paper. Whether that actually translates to a successful show remains to be seen, however.
Weekend Update premieres Thursday, August 10 at 9 pm on NBC.