General Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Who decided that most television shows should be 30 minutes or a hour?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (17144points) 2 weeks ago

Is it some executive in the 30’s? What is his/her name? What was the thinking behind it?

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9 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

Well, I can’t recite the history for you, but I can tell you what I remember.

The old radio shows, such as The Lone Ranger and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, were half-hour shows. I’m guessing that the basic 30-minute format (minus commercial time) was simply carried over to TV.

Also people wanted to remember the times of their favorite shows and tune in regularly. Start times on the hour and half hour were no doubt easiest to schedule and anticipate.

I would also guess that it was easier, especially early on, to find sponsors for the shorter shows. It was pretty hard to say exactly what they were getting for their money, other than that if they advertised, they sold more than if they didn’t.

When I was a youngster, there were very few hour-long programs other than music and variety shows. Disneyland was exceptional. Most story-based programs were half an hour. I also sort of remember one or two programs that ran for 15 minutes. They usually ran back to back in half-hour slots.

It was pretty exciting when some longer scripted shows such as Bonanza started to come along.

The way I remember it, dramas migrated to a one-hour format over the mid-century decades, while comedies tended to stay at a half hour.

No doubt it was money that really decided the matter: what will sell to sponsors, what will sell to audiences, what will sell to networks.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Advertisers. And a half hour show is only about 24 minutes of content.

Darth_Algar's avatar

0:30 – 1:00 is easy to block out for programming. Simple as that really.

LostInParadise's avatar

Isn’t there a tendency to schedule everything in half hour increments? Imagine a notice saying that a lecture will be given from 2:17 to 3:23?

elbanditoroso's avatar

@LostInParadise when I was a kid, one of the channels in Ohio where I lived scheduled all their programming at :05 past the hour. The news was at 6:05, the movies started at 8:05, and so on and so forth.

I think their theory was that they could hook you into their channel and you would never leave.

Of course, this was in the days when we had only three channels and there was no such thing as cable or remote control.

kritiper's avatar

God so decided. It is why the television is called “The Eye of God.”

mazingerz88's avatar

The mood and shifting preferences of the viewers which either accept or reject the shows’ format which includes its running time.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Actual hour blocks were a requirement by the FCC. Stations both radio and TV had to give their call sign, location and frequency /channel numbers. FCC regs for ” top of the hour station identification !”

“Stations must air identification announcements when they sign on and off for the day. They also must broadcast these announcements every hour, as close to the start of the hour as possible, at a natural programming break. TV stations make these announcements on-screen or by voice only. Official station identification includes the station’s call letters, followed by the community specified in its license as the station’s location. Between the call letters and its community, the station may insert the name of the licensee, the station’s channel number, and/or its frequency.”

kruger_d's avatar

Because no one’s going to remember to tune in at 7:42.

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