Published: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 1:00:00 PM
Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 1:07:58 PM

Live, in China, it's Saturday!

Kate McKinnon in 'Saturday Night Live'. The comedy sketch programme is now available for viewing online in China.

Kate McKinnon in 'Saturday Night Live'. The comedy sketch programme is now available for viewing online in China.

Popular American variety TV programme Saturday Night Live is now shown in China.

Saturday Night Live just grew its potential audience by more than a billion, as the popular US late night staple is now being shown in China.

The long-running sketch comedy programme is available exclusively on the website of Sohu Video, a branch of Chinese online media group Sohu.com Inc. Ten episodes from the current season of SNL – the show’s 39th – are available online now, the Associated Press reports.

Future episodes will be available sans subtitles each Monday after airing in the United States. A version with Chinese subtitles and explanations of cultural references will be available the following Saturday evening.

China has been the butt of many jokes on the show, but Sohu Chairman and CEO Charles Zhang said that he does not anticipate a backlash. “Things that are controversial in the US are probably not controversial in China,” Zhang said.

“And this talk show is in the spirit of fun and humour. I don’t think there will be any problem.”

Films and TV shows are regularly censored in China to prevent criticism of leaders or socially sensitive content. Both are fixtures of SNL. Zhang said the show could inspire Chinese companies to produce programmes with similar formats, though they probably won’t embrace satire because of government restrictions.

China does not allow the majority of its cable operators to carry foreign channels, but there is more freedom online. Sohu Video offers hit American shows like The Big Bang Theory along with Japanese animated series. Zhang said SNL was cheaper per episode for his company than a US drama series. — Reuters

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment, Saturday Night Live, TV, variety show, China

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