The political climate in the United States over the past year has been tumultuous, to say the least. The 2016 presidential election race led to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton becoming the top presidential candidates in the country, and after several months of heated debates, the U.S. found itself with Trump as its 45th President. While the current political state may infuriate some and delight others, it certainly helped NBC’s Saturday Night Live brand skyrocket the success of its YouTube channel. Over the past year, the election cycle and results have proven to be a goldmine of comedy content for the long-standing sketch TV series-turned-digital powerhouse brand. SNL’s video content has struck a chord with many viewers around the world.
In fact, SNL’s Trump and political skits have contributed to the brand’s whopping 48% subscriber growth on its channel. From September 1, 2016 to March 1, 2017, SNL’s channel jumped from just over 2.5 million subscribers to more than 3.8 million subscribers. And these numbers don’t even brush the surface of the amount of views and engagements SNL political content has received. In the rest of this article, we’ll be taking a look at how all of these factors have been key to growing SNL’s digital video success over the last year.
SNL Video Content: A Hit with Viewers
While SNL’s YouTube channel may have grown 48% in just seven months, the platform’s content has been driving an enormous amount of views and engagements since at least February 2016. Out of the top ten most-watched videos uploaded by SNL to its YouTube channel over the last year, six have been directly related to Trump and/or his administration. In total, these Trump-related clips have pulled in almost 1.2 billion video views and 1 million engagements in the form of likes and comments.
The top four videos on SNL’s YouTube are all Trump-related, while the 8th and 9th spots are also connected with the 45th president and his administration. In general, these YouTube videos are either about Trump himself (played by SNL favorite Alec Baldwin), such as when he was running for office against Hillary Clinton, or about his now infamous Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose portrayal by actress Melissa McCarthy was widely applauded online.
The most-watched video on SNL’s channel was, in fact, McCarthy’s interpretation of Spicer. That recent clip received a total of almost 25 million views, with 20.9 million of those coming within the first week of the video going live. The video’s first 7-day engagement rate was 1.3x, just slightly over the average rate of 1.0x. While Trump was an easy comedy target, SNL’s writers were given more fodder when Spicer joined his administration, and with the massive amount of views McCarthy’s skit received, it’s clear SNL knew exactly how a lot of its audience felt about the press secretary.
SNL’s Political Success Doesn’t End There
While not all of the top ten most-watched clips on SNL’s YouTube channel were specifically Trump-related, some of those remaining videos from the last 365 days weren’t without their political slants, either. The fifth most-watched clip, “Black Jeopardy with Tom Hanks,” portrays Hanks as a Trump supporter whose white race and upbringing fail him in a trivia game about African-American culture and history. That video pulled in a total of 19.3 million video views and a 30-day engagement rate of 1.8x.
Likewise, the 7th most-watched video on SNL’s YouTube channel is titled “Election Night.” The clip stars comedians Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock alongside several SNL cast members as they anticipate the “sure” election of America’s first female president, before trying to come to terms with and the implications of Trump’s eventual victory. The scene, which was undoubtedly playing out across many homes in the U.S. on November 8, clearly resonated with SNL audiences, as the video claimed 14.7 million total video views and an engagement rate of 1.7x.
Overall, only two videos on SNL’s YouTube over the past year haven’t addressed, mocked, or alluded to Trump and his presidency. Even SNL‘s Facebook videos are predominantly political, with half of the top ten most-watched videos on the brand’s account covering Trump-related skits and issues.
It’s a given SNL will continue to take jabs against Trump during his entire presidency across all their digital outlets, but it will be interesting to see how the brand’s video views, engagement rates, and YouTube channel continue to grow — or not — should the political climate in America settle down a bit. Regardless, SNL has successfully used Trump to its advantage, and those numbers are ones you can’t argue with, at least.