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It marks the first time in years that the entire library has been available on a mainstream streaming platform, and it’s a crucial cornerstone for Peacock. Saturday Night Live’s catalog used to be available to stream in the early 2010s, but that was before the streaming wars kicked off. Yahoo! later briefly hosted the back catalog (alongside behind-the-scenes and unaired sketches cut for time), and here was a short-lived SNL app. Still, trying to stream every season using one of the bigger streaming platforms has become a difficult affair. Hulu currently hosts blocks of seasons (the first through the fifth, and then seasons 30 through 45), but a lot of it isn’t available, including Saturday Night Live’s ‘80s run.
Now that NBCUniversal has its own streaming service, owning the catalog to one of its most popular, longest-standing shows is pivotal. Saturday Night Live coming to Peacock in its entirety is something that NBCUniversal teased earlier this year, but not all seasons were available at launch. SNL is an important collection for Peacock to have. It could help drive more users, including those who get Peacock for free as part of their cable package or those signing up for Peacock for an additional fee.
A recent audience trends report from NBCUniversal also showed that Saturday Night Live was one of the most streamed shows on Sundays and Mondays. This isn’t too surprising; next-day viewing is important to streamers like Hulu, but giving people the ability to watch the most recent episode alongside 45 past seasons may keep them streaming longer. Peacock also rolled out with a dedicated Saturday Night Live channel, which acts like traditional cable. People can click on the channel and tune into a random episode currently airing.
Why did it take this long to get all the seasons available at once? It’s unclear, but in most cases, it comes down to licensing costs. Peacock’s acquired-content chief Frances Manfredi told Vulture earlier this year that the few seasons available on the service at launch were “a starting point, where we’ve done our best sort of portfolio for launch.”
Regardless, the timing is perfect for NBCUniversal and Peacock. Every season will be available to stream just a couple of days before the show’s 46th season kicks off on October 3rd. Chris Rock is set to host the premiere, with Megan Thee Stallion as musical guest. Oh, right — it also happens to arrive just two weeks after NBCUniversal and Roku inked a deal allowing Roku users to stream Peacock from their devices.