For the first time in its history, Saturday Night Live‘s title will be true for the entire continental United States, as this season’s final four episodes will air live in the Mountain and Pacific time zones, as well as Eastern and Central like usual.
Those four episodes will be hosted by Jimmy Fallon (April 15), Chris Pine (May 6), Melissa McCarthy (May 13), and Dwayne Johnson (May 20), and will be broadcast live at 11:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 Central, 9:30 Mountain, and 8:30 Pacific. (The episodes will then repeat at 11:30 Mountain and Pacific.)
For its entire 40-year history, SNL — like most of live TV across those decades — aired on tape delay to the western half of the United States. But most of the big live TV events now get simulcast across the country, and with SNL having its most-watched season in 24 years — and, thanks to Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump, McCarthy as Sean Spicer, and Kate McKinnon as half the Trump administration, its most talked-about in years — it seemed time to stop letting the good people of California have the whole show spoiled for them on Twitter.
“SNL — enjoying its most popular season in two decades — is part of the national conversation, and we thought it would be a great idea to broadcast to the west and mountain time zones live at the same time it’s being seen in the east and central time zones,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment in a statement. “That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time. Kudos to Lorne Michaels, the producers and cast for making SNL one of the most relevant and anticipated shows in the zeitgeist.”
Will this be a one-time (or, rather, four-time) experiment, or, considering NBC’s lack of original Saturday night programming for much of the year, could this be the way SNL airs going forward? That’s unclear, but this may be a hard genie to put back in the bottle once it’s live from New York from coast to coast.
Additional reporting by Mike Ryan.