The whole thing comes down to numbers, as we'll see below. As a bonus, I think you'll enjoy my free ebook, Elon Musk Has Very Big Plans, which you can download here.
First start with the fact that with a net worth of roughly $166 billion, Musk's personal wealth is more than 60 percent the size of the entire market capitalization of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, which airs SNL.
Second, take a look at the difference between what happened when SNL tweeted a photo hyping Musk's appearance, with what happened four hours later when Musk tweeted the exact same photo -- albeit with a little addition that we'll address in a second.
The photo shows Musk posing with musical guests Miley Cyrus and the Kid Laroi. As of when I'm writing this, Friday evening, SNL's post had:
- 3,733 retweets
- 897 quote tweets
- 24,670 likes
Also, as of when I'm writing this, Musk's post, which went up about four hours later, had:
- 75,200 retweets
- 11,700 quote tweets
- 426,400 likes
See the difference? Musk's power on social media is greater by an order of magnitude than SNL's. Fascinating, when you think about it, since SNL's entire reason for being is to produce entertainment that people want to watch.
Finally, let's take a look at SNL's ratings, which have fallen more than half since the presidential election, from about 9 million viewers to just 4 million.
No offense intended to British actress Carey Mulligan, who hosted last week, or actor/comedian/producer/writer Keegan-Michael Key, who will host next week, but quite a lot of people will be watching tonight, purely because it's Musk.
I'll be one of them -- whether it's for pure entertainment or to see if the whole thing turns out to be a giant mess. It's a comedy show, for one thing, and while Musk can be wry on social media, I'm not sure anyone ever really has described him as
So that's what SNL gets out of it -- far more exposure than normal for this 46-year-old show, well worth the minor agita that some of its younger cast members have about sharing the stage with one of the world's wealthiest people.
What does Musk get from it? I think he gets three things.
First, he gets SNL's audience. I'm not sure it's bigger than his audience; it may be given the extra attention the show is getting this week. I'm sure it overlaps. But he gets it.
Second, he gets attention and opportunity. I admit, I have no idea what Musk will be like as host, but expectations are not high--and thus, quite possibly, easy to beat. Believe it or not, there are millions of Americans who barely have any idea who Musk really is; this will be their opportunity to be introduced.
Actually, on that note, he doesn't have to be funny; he just has to seem human and vulnerable to gain a benefit.
Finally, he gets a 90-minute, nationally televised, live opportunity for mischief. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the degree to which he's been hyping Dogecoin, which has seen its price double in a week.
You'll note that the difference between the two SNL photos, with Musk and Cyrus, is that in the one Musk tweeted, there's a Dogecoin dog photoshopped in.
So, call it what you will: a publicity stunt, a marriage of convenience, or maybe a very smart decision to leverage each other's audiences.
I don't know if it will be good, but I think we'll all be entertained.
(Don't forget the free ebook, Elon Musk Has Very Big Plans.)