The popular US comedy sketch show has been introduced to China via Sohu Video.
Saturday Night Live has been made available to Chinese viewers since a video streaming website, Sohu Video, began to exclusively show the popular US comedy sketch show. Ten episodes of the show's current 39th season have been made available through the site, which is a unit of the Nasdaq-listed Sohu.com Inc.
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Soon more episodes of the weekend show will be uploaded the Monday after being aired in the United States although will not have subtitles at first. A version with Chinese subtitles and explanations of the cultural references made during the show will be made available the following Saturday, according to the AP.
Chinese films and television shows are routinely censored to prevent criticism of political leaders or socially sensitive content, such as sexually suggestive humour, and SNL frequently tests those boundaries. Past topics on the show have courted controversy, including a sketch of a press conference with then Chinese President Hu Jintao berating President Barack Obama over the national debt.
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Foreign TV channels are only allowed very limited access to China and foreign content is imported or reformatted. However, broadcasted TV shows are subject to greater scrutiny than online video, which has helped sites like Sohu become successful without being hindered.
Sohu Chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said he wasn't worried that the show's edgy themes, such as the typically Chinese no-go topics of sex and politics, would get them into trouble in China. "Things that are controversial in America are probably not controversial in China," he said. "And this talk show is in the spirit of fun and humor. I don't think there will be any problem."
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Zhang also spoke of his hope that Chinese production companies would move into creating similar Chinese-language content in similar formats if the SNL stream proved popular.
After nearly 40 years of NBC broadcast, the show has proved an invaluable launch pad for some of the biggest names in US comedy, including Eddie Murphy, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Jimmy Fallon, Kenan Thompson and Will Ferrell. The show regularly recruits big name guest hosts, with Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus having recently hosted.