"Saturday Night Live" is now available for Chinese audience via a popular online video site, Sohu.com. The company's chief executive Charles Zhang announced on Thursday, January 2 that the late-night U.S. comedy sketch import is part of the effort to fight piracy and to encourage Chinese viewers to watch legitimate U.S. content.
Such import is also based on demand. "American TV shows account for one fifth of total clicks we're getting, and I'm really confident that we will be able to attract the attention of younger viewers," Zhang said at an event held in Beijing to announce the show's debut.
Ten episodes from the current 39th season are available now, but the show actually had premiered on December 23 without public knowledge. The AP reported that future episodes will be available without subtitles on Monday after airing in the United States. The ones with Chinese subtitles will be available the following Saturday at 10 P.M.
"The younger generation is growing up in a connected world with greater English proficiency and culturally they are fans of celebrities overseas - it's worldwide. Just from the traffic, we know they are enjoying American TV episodes," said Zhang.
"Saturday Night Live" is the latest show being distributed in China's online video market. "The Walking Dead" and "Modern Family" have hit streaming services legally. "The more content we buy, the less piracy we get," said Zhang, who planned to follow the campaign against piracy with the import of American movies.
"To the American content industry, this is the best news, and it happened so quickly," he said. "It was such a headache for the big five [studios], there were pirates everywhere. This will enable the American entertainment companies, the creativity, to shine in this part of the world."
To China, the move also benefits its movie industry. "People here are trying to learn from everywhere. Voice of China is an import from abroad, or even TV imports like 'House of Cards', which we introduced here, a lot of producers are looking at these top American shows and are determined to produce a Chinese version," Zhang said.