Called "Lazy Sunday: The Chronicles of Narnia," the two and a half minute segment follows the rapping duo of "SNL" cast membersas they munch on Magnolia Bakery cupcakes, laud the "crazy delicious" combination of Mr. Pibb and Red Vines, and muse about the best route to a New York matinee of the new "Narnia" flick.
After airing on "SNL" on Dec. 17, the video scooped up a steady stream of devotees, racked up coverage from The New York Times and Newsweek, and even spawned .
"It is (the characters') obliviousness to their total lack of menace--or maybe the ostentatious way they pay for convenience-store candy with $10 bills--that makes the video so funny, but it is the Internet that has made it a hit," the New York Times said on Dec. 27.
At YouTube, a site where people can upload and share personal video clips, at least one version of the file counted more than 5 million downloads--and multiple versions had appeared on the site.
On Thursday, YouTube visitors found the videos had been deleted.
"NBC recently contacted YouTube and asked us to remove 'Saturday Night Live's' 'Lazy Sunday: Chronicles of Narnia' video," the San Mateo, Calif.-based company, which formally launched its site last December, said in a notice posted to its blog. "We know how popular that video is, but YouTube respects the rights of copyright holders."
The video continues to reside on NBC's official "SNL" site, though its embedded video player appears to work only with Windows. Curiously, the skit remains downloadable for free through Google's video service. It's also available for $1.99 at Apple Computer's iTunes store.
NBC Universal spokesperson Julie Summersgill said the take-down notice issued to YouTube concerned not only the SNL sketch but also asked that "upwards of 500" entertainment- and Olympics-related clips be pulled. She said NBC contacted a number of other sites but declined to name which ones.
"Our goal on this is that obviously we want to find a balance between supporting the fan base that's out there for these shows but also protect a significant amount of copyrighted material," Summersgill said, noting that it has been a "relatively amicable process," with most sites removing the offending content within 24 to 36 hours.
CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report.