The New 63-Minute Show: Super-Sizing TV Ain't What It Used To Be

For TV advertisers, going long -- in football parlance, running the clock -- is always a disruption. Current TV's hour-long "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" has been doing this regularly, running a few minutes into the next hour, for 63 minutes in total. All this presumably to cut into the viewership of other news shows after "Countdown," like the similarly targeted MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show."

At first Olbermann and his producing crew, had no problem with this. After all, they were giving viewers more than their money's worth. Of course, what isn't mentioned is what happens when you upset Current viewers, who might like to watch a show on CNN, MSNBC or other TV content.

The irony of course is that Olbermann just came from the confines of NBC Universal, MSNBC to be exact -- and it was NBC Universal's Jeff Zucker that came up with idea of "super-sizing" TV shows back in 2001. As a ploy to combat the then-very-strong CBS "Survivor," Zucker rolled out 40-minute episodes of the half-hour "Friends," "Will and Grace" and "Just Shoot Me."



For the most part, this strategy has been largely abandoned -- apart from those extended one-and-a-half or two-hour versions your favorite reality competition show. Even in its heyday, "super-sizing" always felt like a short-term stunt for viewers.

Ten years ago, too, Zucker's extra-large TV shows didn't face the issue of "disruption" technologies. Today, it's a different story -- what with 43% of U.S. viewers having other means of getting complete TV viewing of programs at any hour, at any minute of the day, with time-shifting DVR technology.

Now, Current TV says it is cutting back on "Countdown" to its proper hour-long length. Olbermann says he does not want to hurt his friend Maddow, a long-time colleague at MSNBC. Others believe that when Maddow's contract runs out, he'd love to recruit her to Current TV.

Don't worry. TV marketers will continue to look for other ways to disrupt, catching the viewer off-guard. What about an hour-long show that suddenly stops after 49 minutes?

4 comments about "The New 63-Minute Show: Super-Sizing TV Ain't What It Used To Be ".
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  1. Stuart Fischoff from Journal of Media Psychology, June 27, 2011 at 3:04 p.m.

    Wayne, not to mention that recording on DVR may cut off the final few minutes of Countdown so that another recording can get started. Obviously, network schedulers don't confer with cable or satellite delivery systems. The whole mess is unwieldy. Nothing runs on time. Where's Mussolini when you need him?

  2. Mark Walker from aka Media Mark, June 27, 2011 at 3:38 p.m.

    It used to be the only thing to worry about was why TBS started shows at 00:05. That was to get their own line in TV Guide!

    Nowadays, I can't turn on a TV show at 00:00 because I already have missed the first 3 or 4 minutes! And that wreaks havoc on a DVR as well- I am setting recording up for 5 minutes early and 5 minutes late- and I STILL miss the ends of shows! What's next- having to own 2 or 3 DVRs in order to catch more than none show at the top of an hour? Bastards!

  3. Christina Ricucci from Millenia 3 Communications, June 27, 2011 at 5:31 p.m.

    Ditto Mark and Stuart.

    I have not used my DVR since December. I'm not sure why I'm still paying Comcast for it.

    I still have last summer's shows on the DVR. I quit using it because I was weary and disgusted at missing the critical first few minutes or last few minutes of programs.

    With regard to super-sizing TV, these kinds of gimmicks never -- I repeat, NEVER -- benefit the viewers.

  4. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, June 30, 2011 at 4:19 p.m.

    I agree that shows that start early or end late for promotional purposes is extremely annoying. That said, I'm very happy with my DVR fro uVerse, which almost always manages to capture the whole show. They almost always start a minute early and end two minutes late. It helps that the box can record four shows at once -- maybe that's the key.

    (No, I don't work for uVerse or AT&T. But for all the times I've bashed them for things that don't work well -- like why I have to pay for ESPN just to get Comedy Central -- I figure I owe them to post when something works out just fine.)

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