TV critics have long complained about too many commercials in shows. In many cases, this now extends the length of the entire TV show -- to a 34-minute “half-hour TV shows or a 63-minute “hour-long” shows.
This reality was highlighted in the recent holiday season -- long series/marathons/catch-up programming efforts put on by cable networks.
Todd Juenger, senior analyst of Bernstein Research, points to AMC as an example. Recently, it was running 64 minute-long episodes of “Breaking Bad”; 65-minute to 70-minute episodes on the network’s “A Walking Dead”; and on Discovery’s Science Channel, 62-minute episodes of “Mythbusters.”
Much of Juenger’s concern was the growing glut of TV commercials: MTV, for example, went 35 minutes for “Ridiculousness” and 70 minutes for “Teen Mom 2.”
For many, Viacom’s networks, such as Comedy Central, MTV, TV Land, Nick At Nite, have long been the target when it comes to commercial overload. Some Viacom networks in recent years aired five half-hour shows in a typical three-hour prime-time period (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) when there should have been six shows.
Growing TV commercialization has been a problem for some time. Now with on-demand programming, something else is changing: a traditional TV schedule. TV shows don't need to start -- or end -- on the hour or half-hour. With on-demand/time shifting, you watch exactly when you want.
Decades ago, Ted Turner, looking to ramp up his nascent TBS networks, had slightly altered prime-time start times for TBS programs. The move was done to highlight those show with a separate listing in newspapers/TV consumer magazines versus programming on other networks, according to TV analysts.
For example, shows would start at 8:05 p.m., 8:35 p.m., or 9:05 p.m. It meant TBS viewers needed to continue to watch his network since they would be missing the start of a show on another channel. A controversial lead-in/lead-out scheduling technique.
Time-shifting was in its infancy then. Now 40 years later, TV consumption is much different -- especially commercial-free platforms. Go to Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. Start times are obviously not a factor.
So apart from live TV content -- sports, news and special events, as well as the increasingly irregular start times on some cable networks -- how long are we going to need traditional linear/time sensitive TV schedules any more?