'Saturday Night Live' to run with fewer ads next season (report)

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When "Saturday Night Live" starts its 42nd season next fall, it will presumably still have "Weekend Update," musical guests and lots of celebrity impressions. What it won't have is the same number of commercials it's had for its past 41 cycles on air.

NBC will structure the program so that it runs with two fewer commercial breaks, according to a report in Advertising Age – the equivalent of cutting about 30% of the ads from the show. The move is the latest in a series of efforts by big TV companies to try to change the way they rely on commercials for support. At a time when more viewers watch TV in new digital ways that contain fewer ads or commercials that are targeted to the person watching, TV networks are making attempts to emulate the experience.

An NBCU spokeswoman could not be reached for immediate comment.

Photos of the most successful 'SNL' cast members:

17 PHOTOS
Most successful SNL cast members, Saturday Night Live
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'Saturday Night Live' to run with fewer ads next season (report)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 2 -- Aired 02/08/2001 -- Pictured: Will Ferrell as Alex Trebek during 'Jeopardy' skit (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Anne Hathaway' Episode 1535 -- Pictured: Tina Fey as Governor Sarah Palin during the 'Vice Presidential Debate' skit on October 4, 2008 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Aired 12/16/2000 -- Pictured: Jimmy Fallon during 'Weekend Update' on December 16, 2000 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Pictured: Eddie Murphy as Solomon during the 'Pudge & Solomon' skit on December 10, 1983 -- (Photo by: RM Lewis Jr./NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 17 -- Aired 04/14/2007 -- Pictured: Amy Poehler as Dakota Fanning during 'The Dakota Fanning Show' skit on April 14, 2007 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Aired 12/16/2006 -- Pictured: Andy Samberg as guy during 'Dick in a Box' skit on December 16, 2006 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 9 -- Pictured: Host Steve Martin on January 21, 1978 -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 14 -- Pictured: Bill Murray during 'Weekend Update' on March 10, 1979 -- (Photo by: Fred Bronson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 7 -- Air Date 11/20/1993 -- Pictured: Adam Sandler as Brian during 'The Denise Show' skit on November 20, 1993 (Photo by Raymond Bonar/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 6 -- Pictured: Julia Louis-Dreyfus during the 'Saturday Night News' skit on November 19, 1983 -- (Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Pictured: Chevy Chase during 'Weekend Update' -- (Photo by: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Josh Brolin' Episode 1536 -- Pictured: Kristen Wiig as Suze Orman during the 'The Suze Orman Show' skit on October 18, 2008 (Photo by Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 10 -- Air Date 02/15/1986 -- Pictured: Robert Downey Jr. as Julian Lynch during the 'Models Against the Wilderness' skit on February 15, 1986 -- Photo by: Al Levine/NBCU Photo Bank
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 7 -- Air Date 12/03/1994 -- Pictured: Mike Myers as Rajneesh Singh during the 'Civil War Memories' skit on December 3, 1994 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 8 -- Pictured: Chris Rock during the 'Weekend Update' skit on December 7, 1991 (Photo by Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- 'Mick Jagger' Episode 1620 -- Pictured: (l-r) Bill Hader, Seth Meyers -- (Photo by: Dana Edelson/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
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NBC will also, six times a year, give an advertiser the chance to create commercials that tie in to the program, according to the report.

The move sounds radical for the venerable program, but "Saturday Night Live" has experimented with these sorts of things in the past.

In 2009, "SNL" created three sketches based on a long-running spoof of "MacGyver" called "MacGruber" that were actually commercials for Pepsi and appeared in ad breaks supporting a January "SNL" broadcast (one of them showed up in NBC's broadcast a day later of Super Bowl XLIII). In that same year, "SNL" allowed Anheuser Busch InBev to purchase all the national ad time surrounding the program to hawk a brew called Bud Light Golden Wheat. In exchange, the beer-maker sponsored a series of never-before-aired comedy segments from the show's rehearsals during its commercial breaks.

After Skewering Commercials For Decades, 'Saturday Night Live' Starts To Embrace Them

NBCU isn't alone is tilling this new ground. TNT expects to run three new dramas with a significantly reduced load of ads when they debut. TruTV, like TNT owned by Time Warner's Turner unit, intends to run fewer commercials and more programming starting later this year. Viacom's networks are trimming the number of ads they feature in primetime. And there is a spate of new offers to help blend ads with the TV outlet in which they surface. Fox Networks Group. A+E Networks and Viacom are all pushing new units that help advertisers tailor commercials to their particular products.

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