Saturday Night Live” will finally be, well, live in all time zones. Starting on April 15, the show will air live simultaneously across the country for the first time in its history, coinciding with the East Coast airing, Variety has learned. This schedule change impacts the final four episodes of the current season.
The episodes will be hosted by Jimmy Fallon on April 15, followed by Chris Pine on May 6, Melissa McCarthy on May 13, and Dwayne Johnson for the season-ender on May 20. McCarthy’s portrayal of White House press secretary Sean Spicer has been one of the highlights of the season, driving the show to ratings heights.
“‘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 NBC entertainment chair Bob Greenblatt. “That way, everyone is in on the joke at the same time.”
Each episode will air live at 11:30pm ET; 10:30pm Central; 9:30pm Mountain; and 8:30pm PT. (“SNL” will be repeated at 11:30pm in the Mountain and Pacific time zones.)
The show has been on a ratings roll since President Trump’s upset victory in the Nov. 8 presidential election, fueled by Alec Baldwin’s portrayal of the commander-in-chief. Overall, “SNL” viewership for the season to date is up 19% in adults 18-49 (3.5 vs. 2.9 rating) and up 22% in total viewers (10.6 million vs. 8.7 million) over the comparable period in the 2015-16 season.
NBC also recently announced plans to extend the run of the show into the summer. “Weekend Update” hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che will also get a limited run in primetime in August when NBC airs four half-hour broadcasts of the faux-news showcase.