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Anyone else notice the shorter continuous US TV seasons


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EndlessMac

 
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For those who live in the States have you noticed the shorter and shorter continuous TV seasons? I know this has been going on for awhile but I've noticed that more shows are doing this. What I mean is that they have something like 5 continuous episodes and then they continue it several months later. This causes a really long wait for the next episodes. Some networks show an entirely different show in its place in the meantime instead of having reruns.

I've noticed that sometimes I just lose interest in the show after not watching it for so long or I forget about it when it comes back with new episodes. Sometimes I start watching another show in its time slot and start liking that show instead. This makes me wonder why the tv executives are doing it this way? It's probably a cost cutting measure because there aren't as many episodes per season if they have a long gap in the middle or they are trying to promote their other show but if other viewers are like me they are losing viewers who find other shows to watch in the meantime.

In the past it used to be that shows started approximately in the Fall and ran continuously until late Spring and then reruns in the Summer. It's not exactly the perfect formula but it did keep me from finding other shows to watch. I'm curious to know if these gaps in the season has affected anyone's watching habits. I don't know how shows are shown internationally but feel free to also comment if you don't live in the States.
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I've noticed it and like you it puzzles me why TV producers are splitting their episode seasons the way they are. I like to watch programs on USA channel but they do exactly what you said: show 5 or 6 episodes and then take a break for 3 to 4 months. Maybe they think viewers will TVO all the shows in a year and watch them that way instead.

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EndlessMac

 
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It definitely puzzles me because with all the complaints they have about low viewership I think this gap in the seasons is making things worst for them and not better.
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XJ-linux

 
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It makes LOST a real pain to follow! FOX and USA networks killed a couple of shows that I liked (Vanished, The 4400 or The Dead Zone anyone?) doing that. SciFi (sorry I refuse to call it SyFy - whatever that means) messes with Eureka and some other decent shows as well. I was looking through my DVD collection and seasons were really different back as recently as the 1980's. Case in point Magnum P.I. There use to be about 22 to 24 episodes in a season, and then reruns over the whole summer. Seems these days, 13 episodes appears to qualify as a season, and you get 4 episodes every 3 months or so. Thank goodness for DVR, or I would miss half of the stuff that I didn't know was back on.

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EndlessMac

 
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Originally Posted by XJ-linux View Post
FOX and USA networks killed a couple of shows that I liked
That's part of the problem. What they are doing is not giving new shows a chance especially after spending all that money to advertise and create the show. FOX in particular just likes to cancel just about anything that isn't a reality TV show.

It takes awhile for audiences to start watching a show. I don't aways watch a show when it first begins but if it gets good reviews then I might check it out or sometimes if I'm trying to relax and kill some free time then I'll try out a show I haven't seen before. I've ended up liking some new shows that way even though I didn't think they were interesting from their promotion commercials.

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Thank goodness for DVR, or I would miss half of the stuff that I didn't know was back on.
I don't have DVR so I've missed out on some of my shows that way but it's more about waiting for the new season to start and then only getting 5 or so episodes before having to wait a few months for the rest of the season. I don't know about everyone else but it's not as satisfying to watch a season that way.

I have noticed there are less episodes now than in the past. If they are going to do that they could still show them continuously rather than having gaps in between. The season will just end early for them but at least the networks will give the shows a chance to survive and I believe it's more enjoyable for viewers like myself.
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XJ-linux

 
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Looking through my iTunes, the length of time for each episode seems to have dropped too. Magnum P.I. circa 1982: about 48:05 minutes or more per episode... Jericho circa 2007: about 41 to 43 minutes max.

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XJ-linux:

Blame the TV networks for that one. They dictate how long an hour show can go for. So in your example in those years they network have the shows 5-7 less minutes per show. Of cause that equals more time for advertising and more revenue for the TV network.
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I wonder about the long term strategy. Reruns make money in syndication, but I don't know for whom. With fewer episodes, will the syndication strategy change?
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My mom, who watches a ton of TV, has been complaining about this for a long time. Its ticked her off so much, she got on Demand. She recently asked about setting up Netflix streamig, Hulu or buying seasons on itunes.

I don't watch a lot of TV, but V really ticked me off. I loved the 80's show, even though it gave me nightmares. I was pretty pumped about the new one. After what 4 episodes or so, it was just gone. What 3 or 4 months? By the time it came back I no longer cared and haven't watched since.

The few shows we watch now, we usually get off Hulu, stations webpage or wait for the DVDs.
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EndlessMac

 
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Originally Posted by toMACsh View Post
With fewer episodes, will the syndication strategy change?
They probably will have to get two shows to equal the length of previous whole seasons or they will probably wait for the show to have at least two seasons before syndicating them.

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After what 4 episodes or so, it was just gone. What 3 or 4 months? By the time it came back I no longer cared and haven't watched since.
You don't have to watch a ton of TV to be affected because a lot of shows are doing this now. I don't watch a ton of TV either. Just a few selected shows. I had pretty much the same reaction as you for some shows. By the time those shows came back I no longer cared to watch again. Most of the time I either found a better show to watch or used my time in other ways besides watching TV.

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The few shows we watch now, we usually get off Hulu, stations webpage or wait for the DVDs.
The problem is still there if you watch them off the internet unless you wait until the end of the season to watch it. TV networks won't put episodes on the internet until they have aired on TV so you still have the gap.

Because of all this people might wait until the end of the season to watch. This means that less people will watch it "live" so the ratings will go down giving it a higher chance to be cancelled. Some shows have gained in popularity after their cancellations because of this which is a problem if you really liked a show.

Sometimes it seems the TV networks don't want their viewers to watch their shows.
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Originally Posted by EndlessMac View Post
The problem is still there if you watch them off the internet unless you wait until the end of the season to watch it. TV networks won't put episodes on the internet until they have aired on TV so you still have the gap.

Sometimes it seems the TV networks don't want their viewers to watch their shows.
The gap doesn't bother us since we usually miss a lot of episodes. I do think about how watching online hurts the ratings especially if I really like a show. I really think the network wanted to kill V when they took it off the air. It just baffles my why an exec would kill the momentum of a show.

No way Sienfeld or Star Trek Next Generation (two off the top of my hear) would have survived in this environment. Their first seasons are horrible. Second was a little better, but they didn't get going till the third.
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You are right about some shows only becoming good after the first season. I have notice that I have increased my watching on the internet through sites like Hulu and the network websites themselves.

This is mostly because I don't always remember when the shows will come back. I have to catch up by watching on the internet. As you mentioned they lose TV ratings for advertising.
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It's pretty obvious that the mainstream networks are having to deal with an evolving environment, with more people using paid TV (cable and satellite), their audience share has shrunk over the last two decades or more. Shows that used to garner a 20 to 30 share of the viewing audience now are lucky to get a 15 or 16 share to be considered successful. And sometimes, not even those numbers will save them. These days most shows would kill for a 10-12 viewer share rating in prime time just to keep their jobs alive. And they're struggling just to achieve those ratings.

Just look at the late night competition that got Conan "Not Funny" O'Brien canned. His show garnered only 2.4 million viewers a night while Jay Leno was pulling 5.7 million in prime time. At the same time, Letterman was getting 4.7 million viewer a night. Is it any wonder that Conan got canned! Not. The guy couldn't draw an audience if he were shooting his show in a fish barrel.

Commercial television is all about ratings, folks. If the commercial networks don't have the numbers, they can't charge the high bucks for advertising. Hence, they don't have as much of a budget to spare for paying for good quality content (television dramas, comedies, or reality shows). That means that something has to go, which in this case is the amount of content they can afford to pay for in today's economy.

So, they deliberately cut back on the amount of shows they order for any given "season."

But you all bring out some very good points that the television executives seem to be missing as far as cultivating the few viewers they still have left. You can't go around alienating your viewers by only showing four episodes at a time, and then going on hiatus for a few weeks (or months) before returning with more episodes. Viewers who have other choices for their entertainment just won't stand for that.

Commercial television has had it good (a monopoly, that is) for so long that they can't seem to shake their built in prejudices toward programming in the current environment. They're trying to save money while at the same time keep viewership up. But they're not willing to do what they have done in the past to keep the ball rolling.

Kudos to CBS for sticking with shows like NCIS, the original and spin-offs of CSI, Ghost Whisperer, The Mentalist, and The Good Wife while running re-runs of each and refusing to go on hiatus. As an over-the-airwaves only viewer (meaning Free TV), I like some of the shows on Fox, but they always take their good shows off for a hiatus (Lie To Me, for example, or The Human Target) and replace it with something else which is less engaging.

Somewhere along the line, the execs need to figure out what the viewers are responding to and maintain that regimen if they want to retain a consistent viewership for their content. Because, let's face it, television today is based on newer and fresher content for the massively brain-dead in society. Once in a while a few good shows do sneak through that engage and intrigue viewers from all backgrounds, but those kinds of shows are becoming fewer and fewer in number every year. And they're more expensive to produce.

So, when push comes to shove, something's got to give...and that's the reason why the television seasons are so much shorter these days. Commercial television doesn't have the monopoly it once had with the advertisers. Hence, their revenues are lower. They have to compete with cable and satellite. And, supposedly, competition makes for a better marketplace for the consumer. Since it's an evolving phenomena, we'll just have to wait to see how things pan out.
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EndlessMac

 
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You have good points. Although for me it's not about them cutting back the amount of episodes and I understand about their budget concerns. The issue for me is the continuous viewing of the episodes.

If there are only 10 episodes then just show all 10 without the long gap in between. It's like trying to watch a movie that is broken into several sections that are then watched months apart. I lose the enjoyment when they are spaced that far apart.
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As an over-the-airwaves only viewer (meaning Free TV), I like some of the shows on Fox, but they always take their good shows off for a hiatus (Lie To Me, for example, or The Human Target) and replace it with something else which is less engaging.
So thats what happened to Human Target. I thought they canned it. That was a good show. Thats a good point about the monopoly angle. Its similar to the recording industry.

I know when I watch Castle online there are commercials, which I do consider a good thing. If it would save this show or any other I wouldn't mind a few more commercials.
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