‘Saturday Night Live’ finally has a YouTube channel—you just can’t watch it

Saturday Night Live and YouTube would seem like a match made in pageview heaven. The long-running NBC sketch show was legendary for its short, standalone comedy scenes long before keyboard cat came along and made two-minute bursts of online entertainment a standard viewing habit.

So it only makes sense that Saturday Night Live would eventually launch a YouTube channel to complement the show. The only problem for American comedy fans is that the channel is not available to viewers in the U.S. A licensing agreement with Yahoo keeps thousands of classic clips from domestic YouTube viewers.

According to Variety, the ad-free international SNL channel aims to drive up foreign viewership in the 170 countries where the live variety show currently airs. The channel launches on the eve of the show’s 39th season with an impressive backlog of 2,500 clips. An additional 2,000 will be loaded in the next few weeks, along with weekly uploads from current episodes. The show returns this week with host Tina Fey.

That’s not to say there is a shortage of SNL content available online to U.S. fans. Some 5,000 clips from the show are currently up on Yahoo, bolstering the company’s efforts to create original Web comedies. The videos have migrated over their from their former home at SNL‘s website and Hulu,  though Hulu Plus will still air full episodes of the show. Old SNL episodes are also available on Netflix for instant streaming.

Though Saturday Night Live has historically worked to keep its official clips off of YouTube, the show has always had a special relationship with the site. “Lazy Sunday,” one of the show’s first Digital Shorts, was an early hit for YouTube.

The SNL YouTube channel is overseen by the online-video startup Zefr, which has created automated post-rolls at the end of each clip to recommend other SNL videos.

Photo via NBC

Tim Sampson

Tim Sampson

Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.