Yahoo Steals SNL Syndication From Network-owned Hulu

Yahoo Steals SNL Syndication From Network-owned Hulu

posted Saturday Apr 27, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Yahoo Steals SNL Syndication From Network-owned Hulu

In a move that is both shocking and par for the course, Yahoo announced that their streaming service will become the exclusive home for the Saturday Night Live archives, starting in September. This is definitely good news for Yahoo, who is in the process of jump starting their stalled video streaming services. It is, however, bad news, as well as weird news, for Hulu, who currently has the exclusive rights to online distribution of SNL content.

The bad - SNL is a huge media property, and single-handedly responsible for streaming successes. The video that made YouTube a household name was the Digital Short Lazy Sunday, and the archive capability on Hulu has been a constant draw to the service. Losing the archive could hurt Hulu's subscriptions long-term, though their focus on original programming might negate some of the effects.

The weird - Hulu is a joint partnership between 3 major broadcast companies: News Corp (FOX Television), Disney (ABC) and Comcast (NBC). As any SNL fan knows, SNL has been an NBC property since it debuted in 1975. So, doing the math, NBC lost online distribution rights to its own show to Yahoo. Now, while this might seem as weird as Fox limiting immediate access to its broadcast shows on Hulu to Dish Network subscribers while owning DirecTV, this move actually makes slightly more sense. Instead of being a Fox/Dish type scenario, it is more like a 20th Century Fox/Star Wars scenario.

Originally, when the Star Wars series was picked up, there was so little faith in the possibilities of the franchise that Lucas was allowed to keep exclusive licensing rights for merchandise. This has led to a major financial success for Lucas and probably the termination of many studio heads. SNL was a similar scenario - so little faith was had in the series that Lorne Michaels' production company, Broadway Video, was given distribution rights to the series. Broadway Video, therefore, made the decision to move from Hulu to Yahoo.

The move is a big deal for Yahoo, because, like YouTube and Hulu before it, SNL can really help move the streaming platform forward. In fact, it will be a big deal for SNL as well, as the archive will now be available outside of the United States. While, the available list of clips, musical performances and episodes is not yet available, my hopes are that we will at least have the same list as Hulu, possibly larger.

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