Saturday Night Live is really going live in all U.S. time zones for the final four telecasts of the season.
The final four episodes – each airing for the first time in SNL history cross-country simultaneously – kick off with Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon as host on April 15 with musical guest Harry Styles, followed by Chris Pine (May 6), Melissa McCarthy (May 13) and Dwayne Johnson (May 20).
This announcement comes on the heels of news earlier this week of a primetime version of SNL: Weekend Update, which will have a four-week run during the show’s summer hiatus beginning August 10, and signals a further push into primetime for the show.
“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. “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.”
Each episode will air live at 11:30 p.m. Eastern; 10:30 p.m. Central; 9:30 p.m. Mountain; 8:30 p.m. Pacific. For the Mountain and Pacific time zones, SNL will be repeated at 11:30 p.m. Musical guests for these shows will be announced at a later date.
The cross-time-zone plan apparently does not include the April 8 episode, hosted by Louis C.K., with musical guests The Chainsmokers.
So far this season, Saturday Night Live originals are averaging a 3.57 rating in adults 18-49 and 11.022 million viewers overall in Live+7 averages from Nielsen Media Research. This makes it the show’s top-rated season at this point in eight years in 18-49 (since 2008-09) and most-watched season in 24 years (since 1992-93). SNL is up 21% in adults 18-49 (3.57 vs. 2.94) and up 26% in total viewers with 11.022 million, vs. year-ago averages.
The show has garnered high praise from critics this season, including acclaim for the work of Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton, Jeff Sessions and Kellyanne Conway, Alec Baldwin as Donald Trump and Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer.