TV Upfront

NBC Packages 'SNL' With Primetime Programming in Upfronts, Wins Big Price Hikes

Ad Rates Rocket 20% to 40% Higher

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Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and Larry David as Bernie Sanders on 'Saturday Night Live' in May.
Kate McKinnon as Hillary Clinton and Larry David as Bernie Sanders on 'Saturday Night Live' in May. Credit: Dana Edelson/NBC

"Saturday Night Live" may air outside of primetime, but that isn't stopping NBC Universal from seeking primetime pricing for commercials in the sketch comedy show.

The peacock is selling the 42nd season of "SNL" as part of its primetime package during the upfronts, instead of grouped with other late-night fare, where it has previously lived, according to several media buyers and people familiar with negotiations.

Advertisers aren't balking at "SNL" hikes in the cost to reach 1,000 viewers, an industry standard known as CPMs, up as much as 20% to 40%, according to a media buyer and person familiar with the negotiations.

"'SNL' is as premium, if not more so than a lot of their primetime programming," the buyer said.

This comes as the network cuts the commercial load for "SNL" by about 30% -- or two commercial breaks per episode -- next season and offers advertisers a limited opportunity to partner with the show to create original branded content.

It's also an opportune time for "SNL" as we head into the last leg of the 2016 presidential election, which plays to its strengths in current-events comedy.

NBCU is in the home stretch of its upfront ad haggle – when networks look to sell a bulk of their commercial time for the fall season. The media behemoth is said to be securing CPM hikes in low double-digit percentages. The rest of its broadcast rivals have effectively completed their negotiations, securing CPM increases in the high-single to low-double-digits.

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