On Tuesday (March 14), NBC announced their plans to bring “Weekend Update” to primetime. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the popular “Saturday Night Live” segment go solo: During 2012’s election season, “Weekend Update” hit the small screen for a three-week stint, and standalone specials aired on NBC during 2008 and 2009.
NBC is now looking to expanding the brand, bringing four episodes of “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” to TV starting Thursday, August 10. It’s an intriguing idea that will break Colin Jost and Michael Che out of their regular time slot — introducing their brand of comedy to a whole new audience, entirely.
Why is NBC making this move now? Let’s look at four driving factors:
Stephen Colbert’s ratings are a wake-up call
It looks like Stephen Colbert is finally hitting his stride on “The Late Show.” It was a rocky start, sure — taking the mantle from icon David Letterman was always going to be a tough goal — but in recent months, the former “Colbert Report” host has gone all-in with the political bite that made him famous to begin with. With “The Late Show’s” ratings on top, Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” has allegedly gone into panic mode.
If Fallon’s Trump-hair debacle is any sign, NBC needs a makeover in this department –and they may need to find their edge somewhere else.
NBC’s political commentary needs an upgrade
We have to praise former “Saturday Night Live” head writer Seth Meyers. He’s regularly surprised us with his hilarious, biting commentary in his “A Closer Look” segments: Deep dives on current events, and usually presented with a leftward slant — or at least, a critical eye toward the current administration. If there’s any single example NBC should draw from its own programming slate, Meyers’s work is a great inspiration.
‘Weekend Update’ paved the way
Before there was “The Daily Show,” there was “Weekend Update.” The news segment has proven a popular mainstay for “Saturday Night Live” — and it’s a formula that everyone from Jon Stewart and John Oliver to Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah still work with today.
There’s a strength in that longevity — even through the variety show’s less-than-stellar seasons, and anchors — proving that the comedic commentary from that iconic news desk remains relevant through the years.
Timing is everything
Summer is always an interesting time for network television: With shows on hiatus — including “SNL” and competing news parody shows like “Last Week Tonight” — this is the perfect time for NBC to make the move. If primetime audiences respond well, this experiment may prove itself as a successful formula to expand on, bringing “Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” to a whole new audience on a regular basis moving forward.
“Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update” premieres Thursday, August 10 on NBC.