At one time (not too long ago) programs accounted for about 22 minutes per half hour.
- Many shows have dropped or severely curtailed opening/theme sequences.
- Most shows now run the closing credits over the last few minutes of the program. Almost none have separate closing sequences any more.
- With syndicated reruns, closing sequences on older shows are reduced to unreadable small windows and run overlapping the opening minute or so of the next program which is also in a small window.
- Most shows contain several on screen network ads/promos, most animated, some with sound.
My estimate of pure programming time (no ads or promos of any kind) per half hour now is somewhere around 10 minutes.
Are there any actual numbers available?
Most of that is to keep you from getting bored and tuning away, or from thinking that you know the theme runs 30 seconds so you can surf around for something better during it, after which you may not come back.
The average time, according to Warren Littlefield late of NBC, is around 21:30 for a network sitcom, and during "Must See" era it was around 22 minutes. Of course Warren thought the quality was much better back then. The profits certainly were.
All I know is that I can crank my skip button between 4-9 times to get through a network break (more when paired with a local break) and about 6-8 times on a cable channel, which makes me think cable shows have less content per hour.
I can also routinely crank it 8 times for the first two commercial breaks in Letterman, 6 times when a guest has a second segment (between them) and 10 times for the breaks late in the show (I also crank it a couple of times at the top of the show to get directly to Dave's monolog and cut out all of that useless band nonsense).
If I want to see the previews of next week on a network show, it is regularly two cranks of the skip button. And when I realized that I was fast-forwarding all but about 2 minutes of Fear Factor
, that was when I realized that I had been following that show far too long.
I probably owe the networks millions for all of the commercials I have skipped since I won a Betamax in a contest in 1977. Good luck collecting any of that.
I understand that they want to push that envelope to where they have as many ads in the show as they can before people just give up, but it seems somewhat ironic to push that envelope when the business model is a dinosaur from the post-war forties that no longer really applies. We are not a captive audience anymore, and we will not watch what we don't want to.
Stations are so scared of the Hopper that they regularly remove DISH barter commercials built into syndicated shows and refuse to air them.