In some ways, it's never been easier to be a couch potato. There's more good TV than there's ever been, and so long as you have a DVR with the proper wherewithal to record multiple shows at any one time, you can relax and binge watch for days on end.
However, the decisions on what to watch in first run have never been more difficult. Sports would seem to be the default "live watch" because it's real and it's immediate and it's nearly impossible to avoid spoilers if you function as a human being on a remotely normal basis in 2015.
However, with the advent of social media, all it takes is one dickhead to ruin a drama or comedy running first time, so the sporting event had better be compelling if it's going to beat out first run dramatic or comedic endeavors.
So on a crowded Sunday night, was the NBA All Star Game compelling enough to trump NBC's 40th anniversary special for Saturday Night Live? Well, Monday we got our answer...
SNL vs. NBA. Not even close 14.2 rating versus a 5.5 rating. 23.1 million watched the SNL special.
— Tom Winter (@Tom_Winter) February 16, 2015
I'll be honest, when you consider the iconic stature of SNL in the entertainment world and the massive amounts of star power that filled the three and half hours its special occupied on Sunday ( four and a half, including the red carpet show), I expected an even wider margin than the initial overnight numbers indicate.
The fact of the matter is that the 5.5 rating for the NBA All Star Game represents a 12 percent increase over last season's game, indicating that a silver lining in this season where LeBron James and Kevin Durant (generally considered the league's two best players) have been banged up and around a B+/A- (as opposed to their usual A+), perhaps the expanding roster of marquee level stars (including the Rockets' James Harden) is catching on with casual fans.
In more good news for the NBA, the Saturday night events -- primarily, the skills challenge, the Slam dunk contest, and three point shooting contest -- drew 6.1 million total viewers on TNT, up seven percent over last year. And if you're Zach Lavine's agent, be sure to take note that the telecast drew 7.8 million viewers during the Slam Dunk contest.
So is this good news or bad news for the NBA? I think it's fantastic news. If you're NBA commissioner Adam Silver, you're sending a memo out today to all of your TV partners -- all of whom just re-upped at about double the rights fees beginning in 2016-2017 -- and telling them what a great decision they made.
"NBC invested millions in promotion and star power for one of their biggest destination programs of the year, a program in which we share large portions of target demographics, and we still grew our audience by double digits!"
That's how I'd position it. Because it's true.
Regarding the SNL special, it was a home run on virtually every level. Among the living former and current cast members, I have no hard numbers, but it feels like every single one that mattered appeared on the show in some shape, form, or fashion. The aging on some of the cast members and musical guests was eye opening, especially if you're a child of the late 70's, early 80's iterations of the show. It's tough watching some of your favorites lose their fastball.
Still, it was a cool trip down memory lane, and kudos to the cast members for cranking out a couple more hours of original material that reprised old bits and characters that were iconic parts of the last forty years. (No doubt, they came strong right out of the chute with Will Ferrell's Trebek/Connery Jeopardy sketch, and let's just say I'll never read the words "Who Reads" and "Let It Snow" the same way ever again.)
For what it's worth, since this sports is what I'm supposed to do, my five favorite sports sketches in SNL history
Will Ferrell does Harry Caray
Peyton Manning United Way spoof
John Belushi's Little Chocolate Donuts
Bears fans meet Air Jordan
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