How Will NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ Fare After Big-Name Star Departures? | Charts

·4-min read

“Saturday Night Live” fans said goodbye to longtime seasoned players on NBC’s long-running variety show earlier this month. This year, Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney departed the show after the May 21 season finale.

And it’s the kind of show that relies on its talent more than others. Different comedic styles, the chemistry between cast members, and their ability to work with new talent each week to make a good show requires a strong connection with the audience.

To understand just how vital the departing cast members were to “SNL’s” roster, we can look to talent demand for some key “SNL” members over the course of the 47th season, according to Parrot Analytics‘ data, which takes into account consumer research, streaming, downloads and social media, among other consumer engagement.

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Unsurprisingly, demand for Pete Davidson was the highest throughout the season. Between movie announcements (including A24’s “Bodies Bodies Bodies”), a public relationship with Kim Kardashian, online rivalry with Kanye West and his appearances on “SNL,” Davidson is the type of talent engine that a show like “SNL” depends upon.

Davidson’s demand has had peaks and valleys, which is common for public figures, but it hovers between 30 times and 45 times the average demand of all talent in the United States, placing him in the exceptional category. As “SNL” tries to find growth opportunities both online and on linear television, a talent like Davidson can help.

Talent Demand for key “SNL” cast members. Oct. 3, 2021-May 1, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)
Talent Demand for key “SNL” cast members. Oct. 3, 2021-May 1, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)

A big aspect of talent demand is news-worthiness. But bad press around a star of a show or film isn’t going to help with creating demand for that star’s brand longevity or demand for the project they’re in.

But on “SNL,” where the comedians are the main draw and their demand is tied to their performance as well as their prominence beyond the show, the news cycle is important to better understand their inherent demand as personalities viewers want to see, as well as comedians who make the series work.

McKinnon, Bryant, and Mooney don’t have the same news cycle demand, but the chart below demonstrates how their demand ebbed and flowed throughout the course of the season.

Talent demand highlights for “SNL” stars Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney, U.S. Oct 2, 2021-May 25, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)
Talent demand highlights for “SNL” stars Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney, U.S. Oct 2, 2021-May 25, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)

Mooney’s demand remained the lowest throughout the season. Considering he wasn’t used as widely in sketches as in previous seasons, and without too many additional side projects on the side for fans to dig into outside of “SNL,” that isn’t too surprising. Bryant has strong demand throughout the season, with peaks happening each week. Bryant also had “Shrill,” a Hulu original comedy that has generated a dedicated fan base, which has helped boost interest in the star.

McKinnon has some of the strongest demand of all the “SNL” co-stars. She’s one of the most prominent “SNL” members in recent years, thanks in part to roles in big movies outside of “SNL,” and casting reports and announcements appearing throughout the season. Plus, McKinnon has a strong fan base within the LGBTQ community. There are countless TikToks dedicated to McKinnon and her various sketches over the years.

All four losses are incredibly notable for “SNL.” Questions about how much longer stars like Cecily Strong, Michael Che and Kenan Thompson will be around the show have also surfaced. Much is set to change about “SNL” going forward — but one of the biggest is the exclusive streaming rights will go to Peacock by 2024, making Hulu subscribers who use the service for “SNL” next-day viewing with a question about whether or not to subscribe to a different platform.

Top 10 shows on Peacock during “SNL’s” 47th season, U.S., Oct. 2, 2021-May 25, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)
Top 10 shows on Peacock during “SNL’s” 47th season, U.S., Oct. 2, 2021-May 25, 2022 (Parrot Analytics)

The above chart shows how valuable “SNL” is to Peacock currently. It was the most in-demand series on Peacock over the course of the recently ended 47th season, with “WWE Raw” and “The Office” coming in second and third, respectively.

If “SNL” is the show that will bring customers to the platform, converting those Hulu subscribers to Peacock customers, then the cast needs to be as in-demand as possible. Filling the shoes of Davidson, McKinnon, Mooney and Bryant will not be easy — but understanding how talent demand can help drive “SNL” consumption, loyalty and engagement is key.

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