Justin Timberlake-Hosted ‘SNL’ Was a Ratings Winner. But the Show’s Cold Opening Not Available on Hulu. What’s Going On?

Mar 12, 2013  •  Post A Comment

Justin Timberlake returned to host “Saturday Night Live” for a fifth time this past Saturday, March 9, 2013, and the show was a ratings winner, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

According to the story, “Preliminary Nielsen figures give the episode a 5.9 rating among metered-market households and a 15 share. That’s the largest haul for the NBC series in 14 months, since Charles Barkley hosted in January 2012. In the 25 markets with Local People Meters, ‘SNL’ averaged a 3.7 rating among adults 18-49 — another high not achieved since Barkley.”

The talk about the show on the Internet is not about its ratings success, however, it’s about the fact that NBC has killed the show’s trademark cold opening from reruns of the Timberlake-hosted episode on Hulu.

Here’s a report about that development from a separate story at the website of The Hollywood Reporter: “‘Saturday Night Live’ gently mocked the late Venezuela President Hugo Chavez during its TV broadcast, but NBC is not doing likewise on the Internet, choosing instead to refrain from posting the cold open to Saturday’s show.”

The story adds: “During Saturday’s cold open on ‘SNL’s’ TV broadcast, host Justin Timberlake impersonated Elton John singing a version of “Candle in the Wind” with the words changed to reflect the life of Chavez, who died last week at 58.”

Talk on the Internet includes speculation about whether NBC has a political agenda for not carrying the skit online. For example, according to THR: “‘Why has NBC scrubbed Saturday Night Live’s hit anti-Hugo Chavez skit?’ reads a headline from Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com. A typical reader response — ‘How many skits featuring Tina Fey mocking Sarah Palin did SNL gladly run? Commies.'”

However, the story explains: “Insiders say the omission of the sketch at NBC.com, Hulu and other outlets was merely in deference to complicated rules regarding digital uses of musical rights. In fact, another recent sketch in which Adam Levine referenced music from Jason Mraz and Train also didn’t make it online, nor did one where Bruno Mars sang songs from various bands.”

THR also notes that “NBC and Hulu did not comment on the controversy Monday,” which seems odd to us here at TVWeek if the explanation is as simple as the problem being one of digital music rights. Why would NBC and Hulu be loathe to say that? 

Finally, THR did have a copy of the cold opening on its site, though it says it’s not from NBC. We copied the embed and here it is:

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