SNL, YouTube, and the Conversation

Any open education or social media lessons for higher ed?

November 17, 2016

Many of us have tried to make sense of this election through watching - and talking about - Saturday Night Live (SNL).  

SNL feels more relevant than ever. The cultural impact of SNL is, well, huge.  Huge!  

Yet nobody I know actually watches Saturday Night Live live. When was the last time that you stayed up to 11:30 pm to do anything? 

We watch SNL in clips. We watch clips on YouTube that we saw on Twitter.  

Why would SNL release YouTube videos of the shows best segments. The Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin cold openings? The Dave Chappelle Election Night sketch?

I don’t know how much NBC makes on YouTube advertising from the pre-roll ads.  What I do know is that having these skits available on social media makes SNL relevant.  

It also seems that having the best SNL material on social media does not hurt the viewership of the show.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, SNL is averaging 11.4 million viewers, its highest ratings in the shows 24 year run.

We should be careful in going too far in drawing any lessons from SNL for higher ed.  We want to stay as far away from the “entertainment” business as possible.  Our business model is not to sell attention to advertisers.  We have a social mission of discovery and education.  

In almost every way possible higher ed is different from Saturday Night Live.  Save one.  Relevancy.  Both higher ed and SNL needs to be relevant to prosper.  

Do we do enough in higher ed to follow the example of SNL - and get our content out into the wider discussion?  SNL knows that having lots of people talk about their content will drive a few to their full bundled experience (watching live on Saturday night).  

Hardcore SNL fans would not dream of waiting until Sunday to watch some of the skits on YouTube.  They want to see everything when it happens, and not risk missing anything later on social media.  They want to be ones tweeting out the content - rather than reacting to someone else’s sharing.

How aggressive in higher ed can we be about getting our content into the discussion?  How much of what goes on on campus can we capture and share?  

What are the proper platforms and channels to share chunks of our teaching and scholarship?

Could it be that the example of SNL will push higher ed into the open educational content world more effectively than other arguments to participate in this space?

Can we use the SNL example to escape Anand’s Content Trap (amazing book), and realize that our higher ed value proposition is not content but experiences and connections?

What do you think higher ed can learn, if anything, from SNL?



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