NBCSN, the company’s sports-cable network, will fill next week’s primetime schedule with “SNL” repeats featuring prominent athletes as hosts. It’s just the latest programming maneuver by sports-media outlets to get something on the air for audiences at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has scuttled the majority of professional sports matches.
ESPN has used everything from games of cornhole to Disney sports movies like “The Rookie” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played” to classic WrestleManina bouts from the WWE to keep the lights on. MLB Network has relied on baseball films like “Major League II.”
NBCSN intends to broadcast 20 different “SNL” episodes overall, with some of them dating back to the early 1990s (a 1989 broadcast featuring hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who took the opportunity to play in a spoof of Elvis movies alongside cast member Jan Hooks, will probably not be shown, but why not a 1990 broadcast hosted by former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and musical act Morris Day & The Time?). Episodes hosted by Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Charles Barkley, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, J.J. Watt, Dwayne Johnson, Andy Roddick, John Cena, Ronda Rousey, Michael Phelps, and Derek Jeter will all be used.
Athletes have often proven to be interesting hosts for the venerable NBC late-night mainstay. They typically have no movie or TV show to promote and often are more open to testing new abilities by plunging themselves into various “SNL” sketches. On the other hand, they aren’t actors and may rely more heavily on the show’s cast to keep things going.
More to come…