December 21, 2006

Saturday Night Live has scored a major viral victory on YouTube this week with the release of a hilarious video from last week’s show.  You may think it’s just another stupid video on YouTube, but I’m sure the NBC marketing folks were out for a 3 martini lunch every day of the week.

First, they gained some street cred by making a funny video and releasing it to YouTube.  Immediately, you think, how are they going to make any money giving away the content for free? 

Second, more people watched this video online than did actually on TV.  For a show that has been marginal in ratings for some time, that’s a lot of free publicity.  With the upcoming holiday weekend, more people will tune into SNL this weekend than have in 10 years, hoping to see the video or something equally interesting

Third, the real key to this video is that it was a prepared, produced video piece, not a live improv skit.  That’s not what SNL has been famous for over the past 30 years on late night TV.  Do you think those smart marketing folks at NBC didn’t notice? 

The smell of this success will create a ripple through late night Network TV, whether it’s SNL or a show from ABC, something like YouSNL.  The premise is simple, use your advantage in production to make short videos with talented actors on relevant topics or funny skits.  Test those videos among small focus groups to pick the best for the show.  Feel free to throw in a few live skits, fake news pieces, and musical guests just to keep it interesting.  Even use YouTube as a talent factory for new directors, actors, and writers for one off videos produced by YouSNL.  After you’ve had a great show on Saturday, put the most popular videos on YouTube and repeat week after week.

I saw the video on SNL last week and thought it was great.  I wanted to send it to a couple of friends, so I went to YouTube hoping it would be there.  I’m still emailing with people about it 4 days later.  There was no marketing involved, just good content on the right platform.  That’s the only topic those NBC marketing folks aren’t talking about this week.


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