Via a trio of deals, E! Entertainment Television will gain access to the
entire Saturday Night Live library.
The cable network, through a pact with SNL creator Lorne Michaels'
Broadway Video, will begin airing the first five seasons of the venerable sketch
comedy show April 1. E! will strip episodes from the 1975-76 through 1979-80
seasons at 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Broadway Video controls the rights to the first five seasons through the end
of 2003, when they revert to NBC.
E! also reached agreement with NBC to begin airing the current 2001-02 season
in September and the upcoming seasons the following fall.
Moreover, the remaining library of SNL episodes spanning the 1980-81
through 2000-01 seasons will become available to the network in January 2004,
with the deal extending through 2008.
E! declined to comment on the financial terms, but sources pegged the value
of the deals in the 'mid-eight figures' range.
The cable home to SNL for the past 11 years, Comedy Central, which
withdrew from the bidding, retains control of the 1980-81 through 2000-01 season
episodes through the end of 2003.