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When Did TV Shows Shrink?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Joe Tor1, Jun 1, 2009.

  1. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Well-Known Member

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    Here’s a topic I don’t believe I’ve ever seen addressed.

    Over the years, TV shows “shrank”!

    Observing DVD running times of shows from my prime viewing period of the Sixties, an hour-long show ran about an average of 50:00 to 52:00.

    This would cover the period of Perry Mason, Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Star Trek TOS, Wild Wild West, Man From U.N.C.L.E., Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, etc.

    There are two “modern” shows that I collect – Lost and Heroes.

    Their running times average 40:00 to 42:00. I’ll assume that is the modern standard.

    We’ve lost about Ten Minutes per hour show, and (I’d guess) a corresponding drop-off for half-hour shows. I’m curious as to when that happened.

    I suspect it was slow and gradual… a minute here, two minutes there, until ten minutes were excised. I further suspect it happened over the seventies and eighties, but those periods are not well represented in my collection.

    Further, did a series actually shrink over its run? Ironside ran from 1967 into the mid seventies. I wonder if the later episodes are shorter than the earlier episodes. Hawaii Five-O might be an even better test case, given the length of its run.

    I’m curious as to what you folks have to say…
     
  2. Brian^K

    Brian^K Well-Known Member

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    Answer: Money.
     
  3. Bob Gu

    Bob Gu Well-Known Member

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    The National Association Of Broadcasters and the Seal of Good Practice 'governed' the amount of commercial time used throughout the day per hour. More commercials were allowed during the day, less at night during prime time. There was NAB pressure to have fewer commercials during children's programs.

    The NAB standards were sort of voluntary and at some point (maybe after a lawsuit) the powers that be decided they really didn't have to follow them.

    Here's a link to the 1950's NAB/Seal rules that the commercial limits Time Standards:http://www.tvhistory.tv/SEAL-Good-Practice4.JPG
     
  4. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Well-Known Member

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    Television used to be restricted by the FCC to the number of minutes of commercials per hour that were permitted. The sources I've checked said that in the '50s and '60s it was nine minutes allowed per prime time hour -- which for a half hour amounted to four minutes of commercials plus half a minute for "station identification," as they used to call it.

    It was during the Reagan administration that these rules were dropped. Reagan's political philosophy was against government regulations when corporations could make large amounts of money without them (which was basically all he cared about), so in 1983 the FCC eliminated all restrictions on TV advertising. A source I just checked on the Internet said the average now is about double what it was during the regulated years, or about 8 minutes per half hour.

    So in other words, it wasn't slow and gradual -- it was sudden, and the result of FCC regulations being dropped.
     
  5. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Well-Known Member

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    Um... Er... Thank you for that, Brian. It was... um, interesting.

    But I know WHY!

    I thought I asked WHEN!

    So, can anyone be of more help than that?
     
  6. troy evans

    troy evans Well-Known Member

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    To expand on Brian's point. The cut in running time can also result in a cut in budget for the show. If you can shave 2-5 hours off of a production budget for a season you can fill that space with more commercials and advertisements. Advertising is the biggest reason you see shows going from 52mins. to 42mins.
     
  7. Joe Tor1

    Joe Tor1 Well-Known Member

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    Ah! VERY GOOD! Thanks to both Joe, Bob, and Troy.

    That's more of what I was looking for! A time, as well as a reason!

    But, Brian still gets honorable mention for being first!
     
  8. Regulus

    Regulus Well-Known Member

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    One of the Casulties of that Deregulation Lawsuit were the late-Night Movies which were replaced by Program-Length Commercials, which we now call "Infomercials"[​IMG] TV Shows went from being 50-52 minutes long in the 1960s to 45-48 Minutes in the 1980s, it's been during this Decade that weve seen Hour-Long Shows lasting LESS than 40 Minutes once the Commercials have been removed. [​IMG] Combined with the infestation called "Reality" Shows, I decided, in the Fall of 2006, that TV wasn't going to get any better, and I began collecting DVDs.
     
  9. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    I think you mean a half hour show that runs less than 20 minutes. There's more commercials than ever but it hasn't gotten to 2/3 of an hour. [​IMG]
     
  10. Elena S

    Elena S Well-Known Member

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    I found this on the percentage of TV time taken up by commercials thru the years. This was a personal observation made by an individual who tested out different programs from each decade. Looks to me like there wasn't such a great jump between the 70s-90s after all. Look at 1994-2004!

    1952 - 13 percent of the time was spent watching commercials (only 4 minutes out of every half hour!)

    1958 - still 13 percent

    1964 - 17.8 percent

    1977 - 18 percent

    1994 - 24 percent

    2004 - 30 percent

    2006 - 30 percent

    2007 - 30 percent

    2008 - 32 percent
     
  11. Regulus

    Regulus Well-Known Member

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    Doh![​IMG] I meant FOURTY Minutes once the Commercials were removed!
     
  12. Corey3rd

    Corey3rd Well-Known Member

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    when a sponsor paid for the show, they didn't want to clutter the message
     
  13. Joe Lugoff

    Joe Lugoff Well-Known Member

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    It's even worse on radio -- I just read that radio has an average of 29 minutes of commericals per hour!!!
     
  14. Regulus

    Regulus Well-Known Member

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    My Mother noticed the increase in advertisments on the Radio lately and, seeing the success I have had with my DVDs has starting doing the same thing with Music CDs.[​IMG]
     
  15. Brian^K

    Brian^K Well-Known Member

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    I don't see an end to the trend, either, or at least, no chance of reversal. The "remote-free TV" experiment on Fox failed miserably: They cut commercials by 50% but got only 30% higher advertising rates. So "remote-free TV" represents 35% less revenue than the normal amount of commercials. I think the only way we're going to see a reduction in commercials is if people pay extra, specifically, for that. Otherwise, folks who really want television without commercials are going to have to wait for the DVD.

    Viewers have long condemned the ratings system as an inaccurate depiction of what people are watching, and have clamored for something else, because they believe that the ratings are what is causing the push towards more commercials. However, that's not the case: Even though ratings themselves are somewhat inaccurate, the ratings system ITSELF is actually biased in viewers' favor right now. Remember, the objective of the ratings is to measure how effectively advertisers can rely on having more revenue directed their way due to their sponsorship. Eventually, there will be data available that will clearly show that a lot of people are ignoring commercials, or even skipping them, and research will more clearly show how much LESS VALUABLE commercials are to advertisers, and as a result we may see an increase in the proportion of time devoted to advertising, or an increase in the level of invasiveness of advertising (as well as perhaps a continuing drop in budgets and in the quality of the choices available), to make up for some of the lost revenue.

    We were discussing this on another forum a few weeks ago, and I was trying to think of what the networks can do to address this death spiral. I envisioned the networks moving to a multi-channel distribution model, that looks something like this:

    1) Every show we see now on Broadcast Network XXC will appear first, in (say) April, on Premium Network XXA, uncut, uninterrupted, and with no commercial bugs or overlays. At the same time, it would be available via Pay Per View, and via Premium Network XXA's On Demand service. Perhaps at the same time, or shortly thereafter, the episodes will become available for streaming download from Netflix or other pay-for-streaming services, or perhaps even on quickly-pressed DVDs.

    2) Then, in July, the episodes will be rebroadcast on Cable Network XXB. This time, they'll have commercials inserted, and perhaps some content removed. There maybe station identification bugs, and perhaps even overlays used to advertise other Cable Network XXB programming. These same versions of the episodes will be available on Cable Network XXB's On Demand service, while the uncut versions remain available, perhaps rerun in wee hours on Premium Network XXA, as well as through Netflix or other pay-for-streaming services.

    3) Then, in October, these same episodes will start their broadcast run on Broadcast Network XXC. They will again have commercials inserted, just like when they were broadcast on Cable Network XXB, but in addition, they will have a significant amount of product and service advertising overlay -- perhaps as much as half of the program will have advertising for some product or service, either on a strip on the bottom, left or right. (It will move around from one spot to another during the episode.) The episodes, complete with product and service advertising overlays, will also become available on On Demand service Broadcast Network XXC makes available to cable companies, and on their websites (or through Hulu, perhaps).

    I don't see any reason why (say) Heroes shouldn't be presented on a premium channel first, then a few months later on cable, and then a few months later on broadcast. It seems to me that this approach makes programming available in a variety of formats (i.e., with a variety of different levels of advertising invasiveness), and timeliness -- just pick which one you feel is worth it to you. I think this would offer the cable networks far more "original" programming to present (so it would be good for them) and I think it is a good arrangement for the premium networks as well. They would have to make room for a lot more episodic programming, but I think there is a lot of advantage to be had, offering the uncut and uninterrupted non-commercial versions, three months in advance.

    I'm not saying that I have reason to believe that things are going this way, but I do see it as a viable alternative, and perhaps one of the very few alternatives that actually makes what different customers want each available to them (for a price proportional to the value delivered to each).
     
  16. Regulus

    Regulus Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned this on another Website's Thread, but for those of you who haven't seen it I'm going to post it here.

    WHY are people skipping commercials?

    I give TWO primary reasons.

    1. As mentioned on this thread, the Sheer Number of commercials that are tossed at viewers these days. A Viewer can easily have almost 50 Commercials shown to them each hour these days.[​IMG]

    2. The CONTENTS of the Commercial, and/or the way it is presented. I cannot fathom, for the love of Heaven, WHY do advertisers feel that the best way to present their Product is to do so in an obnoxious manner? Also many advertisers do not seem to care WHO is watching these ads when they are being shown. I have seen Commercials for "Adult Products" (Such as a Certain Blue Pill that starts with the letter "V") Shown during all hours of the day, including times when CHILDREN ARE WATCHING![​IMG] (Such as Sporting Events, Early evening Game Shows and even during Children's Shows themselves!)[​IMG] It's no wonder people are resorting to DVRs and other Recording Devices so they can bypass these Abomonations, or in my case, have ABANDONED watching Broadcast and Cable TV, and have resorted to getting their Entertainment from elsewhere, such as DVDs.
     
  17. Brian^K

    Brian^K Well-Known Member

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    People who can skip commercials generally skip commercials because they want to make the most of their time. The didn't sit down in front of the television to be "sold at" -- they sat down to be entertained.

    The unfortunate reality is that the commercials most effective at selling products are the ones that are most memorable, not the most entertaining. Indeed, one of the big problem with entertaining commercials is that they tend to foster far less brand recognition than more "annoying" commercials. Sucks, eh? Another big problem with entertaining commercials is that their entertainment value does not last; people generally aren't entertained by even the most entertaining commercial the third time they sit through it. The cost of creating a new, superlatively entertaining commercial for a product or service, every day or so, would be far beyond prohibitively expensive and far beyond too costly to justify.

    The reality is that advertising, itself, is just becoming less effective, overall, because there is so much more competition for our discretionary income now. There are loads more things for us to buy, and loads more companies looking to have us send our money their way. The only way to keep the value of advertising high enough to substantiate the cost of advertising-supported programming is to recapture the lost value, and there are only two ways to do that: Make it up on volume (more commercials) or make the existing commercial more effective (more invasiveness, more in-your-face). The alternative is to reduce the total money available to pay for advertising-supported programming, and consequently less high quality programming.
     
  18. Garysb

    Garysb Well-Known Member

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  19. Regulus

    Regulus Well-Known Member

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    Look around, this is already happening, and as a result more viewers are leaving the networks.[​IMG]
     
  20. Elena S

    Elena S Well-Known Member

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    I won't even watch a movie on a commerical network anymore. If I can't see it commercial free I'll rent it.
     

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