Without thinking about it, you’ve more than likely watched an hour-long show on Netflix, or another streaming service, and didn’t realize you were actually watching a solid 60-minute episode of a show. That may not seem like much of a deal but when you compare it to watching what’s considered to be an hour-long episode of a show on standard television you’re greeted with ads to fill the space which really only gives about 40 minutes of the actual show. Television networks present shows in all sorts of formats with networks such as Adult Swim using 15-minute time slots, as well as 30-minute, while most networks that have less abstract scheduling stick to either 30 minutes or one-hour time slots. This isn’t to say that other streaming services such as Hulu don’t do this as well, but as Netflix is more groundbreaking in certain ways, that’s the format we’ve focused on. Below, we’ve gone over some of the differences between Netflix episode length VS standard television episode length and compared the losses.
Netflix Episode Length
While Netflix also cuts some shows down as any other studio or network would, they do so with a greater difference from those other companies compared to Netflix with a smaller gap between an actual hour and any less time. It is clear that it does take a considerable amount of time and editing to get an hour’s worth of programming into a time slot well, Netflix has less to take into mind with such obstructions to the format. Netflix not only doesn’t have commercials, providing longer Netflix episode length but they also have full control of their content so they present more obscure episode lengths to certain shows and genres. When it comes to binge-watching, it’s actually somewhat shocking that we tend to finish Netflix shows faster than a show available on television, even when on-demand due to the fact that Netflix presents viewers with fully fulfilled time slots. Even certain episodes, movies, or specials from Netflix even have strange structures to them such as “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” or “The Hateful Eight: Extended Version” which turned the western movie into segments, creating a different story closer to the likes of a television show. To put all of this into thought does raise the question of if we actually finish a Netflix show faster, even though the time slots are filled more accurately, or does the convenience of jumping from season 1 to season 10 have that effect?
Showtime, HBO, and Other Premium Networks
When you rewatch shows such as “Dexter” or “Game of Thrones” on Showtime and HBO, respectively, you are getting much closer to, like Netflix, an actual hour, maybe even more or a little less but when you compare Netflix, HBO or Showtime the difference between what’s considered an hour on ABC or NBC ends up much less. Much like Netflix, channels such as HBO, Showtime, and other premium cable networks don’t offer commercials in the traditional sense, as you’ll find them before and after programming. Generally, networks like HBO and Showtime present their shows in hour-long segments as the quality behind these shows is usually quite high-budget, which is what originally separated premium cable from standard cable networks and channels. Premium channel networks have their own set of issues of course as like Netflix they don’t play just original content as premium cable networks were the original way to watch a movie from theaters, without a VHS, DVD, or other means of viewing or acquiring at home.
When it comes to standard television, the length of a show most varies depending on the genre mostly. Show such as “Law & Order” fill an hour really well when commercials aren’t playing but when you remove them the show comes up as less than even 50 minutes most of the time. Game shows are similar in the sense that they could be an hour or a half-hour depending on the show, the network, and other factors such as the time of day the show is on television. Although game shows are widely varying in time most of them reach a pretty full hour, but short recaps and more than an hour of time to be cut down, they usually fit a lot of content into episodes. Shows such as “The Masked Singer” are another type of show, and game show, that fills up their hour so much to the point that it runs through the credits sequence at the end. With the days of constant, on-demand content all around us, many people don’t take notice of it but the change in length between programming from different networks makes a difference in the amount of content possible in that given time. If you took the 10 minutes off each episode that gets lost due to commercials and such just from a single season of a television network hour-long show, you could add another episode for every 4 episodes, following that same trend. Overall, there is more than a noticeable difference between Netflix episode length and the episode length of basic cable networks.