Fans on the West Coast were furious when the usual Saturday Night Live broadcast at 8:30 p.m. PT was replaced with the NFL Honors without any warning.
NBC didn’t announce on any platform that the live telecast on the west coast was cancelled to allow for the 7th Annual NFL Honors, hosted by Rob Riggle. If the network thought that they’d make more viewers happy with the sports awards show, they found out quickly that they were mistaken. West coast fans took to social media, infuriated that their regularly scheduled sketch comedy show was supplanted without warning.
“We’re live with Natalie Portman and @DUALIPA!” tweeted the official SNL account. “West coast says hi and is crying that it’s not live over here yet,” replied one user.
“Of course the NFL Honors has yet to even start on the West Coast AND it’s depriving us of live SNL,” tweeted another, while coining the hashtags “no more twitter spoilers” and “live on both coasts.”
West coast says hi and is crying that it’s not live over here yet— Livy Magill (@LivyMagill) February 4, 2018
NBC only began airing the Saturday Night Live telecast live from coast to coast in April of 2017. They were capitalizing on the resurgent relevance of the show following the contentious 2016 presidential election and the subsequent controversies surrounding President Donald Trump. The truly live coast-to-coast airings went so well that they decided to continue the new schedule in the 2017-2018 season.
It may have been a miscalculation to prioritize the NFL event over SNL. While the comedy staple fluctuates in ratings, it consistently dominates the live TV landscape, especially on the weekends. By contrast, a new poll in The Wall Street Journal shows that the NFL is losing fans and viewers at a steady pace. Last year their TV ratings dropped 9.7% from the previous year, which was already down 8% from the year before that.
The poll shows that only 51% of men between 18 and 49 — the league’s key demographic — follow the sport closely. Just four years ago in 2014, that number was 75%.
While the NFL has blamed the high profile political drama in the U.S. for their poor rating in the past two years, SNL can point to it for their success. The show sees a surge every time a major story breaks in the White House, and last night proved that fans on the West Coast value their live access.