Are "hour-long" dramas shorter in 2010?

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by Steve Armbrust, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    13
    I watch a lot of TV shows while riding my exercise bike, using the DVR to skip through all the commercials. I start the bike when I start the show, so except for the time it takes me to skip commercials, which might vary a little, I get a good idea of how long a show actually runs by looking at my bike timer when the show ends. Before the start of the year, "hour" dramas seemed to run between 47 and 48 minutes, by my inexact measurement. This year, the second-half-of-the-season shows I watch all seem to run about 45 minutes (Fringe, Ugly Betty, Heroes, for example). Doesn't seem to matter which network, either. They all seem to be a couple of minutes shorter.

    Has anyone else noticed this? Have there industry changes in program lengths that started this year?
     
  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    26,638
    Likes Received:
    3,805
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    I think 47 or 48 minutes was the average running time for a show about 15 years ago. The average today is about 42 minutes.
     
  3. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2000
    Messages:
    2,802
    Likes Received:
    110
    Real Name:
    Josh Dial
    Actually, some shows, including one (Fringe) that you mentioned, actually run longer than the norm. The standard in the industry is 42 minutes (cable shows like the Wire, The Sopranos, et cetera, excluded), and it has been this way for over a decade. Every so often, usually as part of an advertising plan, shows will run longer than this by a few minutes, in exchange for sole sponsorship by someone (usually a car company like Ford) and sometimes even in-show product placement.

    Fringe, Chuck, Dollhouse, 24, and Heroes (to name a few) have all experimented with this in the past few years.

    Some 30-minute comedies also run 1-2 minutes long--Big Bang Theory is one example--and they "steal" the time either from the next/preceeding show, or a few hours later during local news.

    Commercials themselves are getting longer, in that you can now see drug ads (for example) that go as long as three normal commericals, so I suspect this creates an illusion of "more commercials," because seeing the same thing for one and half minutes is certainly tiring.
     
  4. Steve Armbrust

    Steve Armbrust Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 1999
    Messages:
    306
    Likes Received:
    13
    Well, perhaps my timekeeping is off a bit. Especially with having to skip through commercials. However, the shows this year still seem shorter to me than their equivalents last year. I do the same things to skip commercials that I always did, and the shows seem to be over sooner. Just wondering if anyone really measured this year.
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 1999
    Messages:
    38,644
    Likes Received:
    418
    Supernatural runs a little short, around 40-41 minutes per episode.
     
  6. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2001
    Messages:
    971
    Likes Received:
    2
    I record and pre-edit everything. (using PC capture cards, media players, semi-automated editing/authoring software) It varies a bit but 41 minutes after editing is common. Any particular show will have occasional 41+ minute intermixed with 42 - 43 minute episodes. This is pretty much the same as the last few seasons but there might be more of the shorter ones now.

    Smallville and Supernatural have been running short for a few years. The timing of the commercials is often odd with some breaks being longer than show sections. (5 minute breaks with 4 minute show segments)

    The poor writing has contributed a strange effect with a 57 minute buildup (calling then one hour shows) and a 3 minute resolution (or cliffhanger dropoff) Those long buildups can be brilliant or interminable but the current crop of writers don't seem to know how to do endings and resolutions.
     
  7. Walter C

    Walter C Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2006
    Messages:
    2,299
    Likes Received:
    60
    Real Name:
    Walter
    I definitely notice the running times when watching shows on Hulu. The current shows running on average of 40 minutes (I think I may have seen a few that were 39 minutes), as oppose to those from the 70's and 80's, which normally ran 48 to 49 minutes.
     

Share This Page