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Why are cable seasons so short

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#1 Alexenjie



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Posted 22 June 2009 - 01:06 PM

Moderators if I have put this in the wrong place, please excuse me.

A normal TV show has 22-26 episodes and lasts pretty well from mid-late Sept until the end of May. I don't understand why cable TV shows are so much shorter. Burn Notice, which I love, is only going to be 16 episodes (like season 2) in this 3rd year. From what I have read here there will be 9 episodes this summer then a long break until January and then 7 more. That is a lot of months with no Burn Notice and I don't understand why cable stations do that instead of filling up the year the way regular TV does with a series.

I have other cable series that I watch and enjoy and they do the same short thing. Any thoughts, explanations?

#2 AussieFan94



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Posted 22 June 2009 - 05:11 PM

Well Most TV Shows are 30 minutes long and the average cable show is an hour longso all in all I think you get more Burn notice than you do with shows like the office

#3 FiRocks

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 08:25 PM

Hey this is just a guess but perhaps it has to do with the amount of revenue networks vs. cable generate in terms of ads and ratings. I think the average TV show on a network has what, at least double the viewership than a cable program, these increased numbers also means increased revenue for the network in terms of ad space. I think then by generating these higher numbers and money that a show, like, say "ER" for example can have a 22 episode run because it's more lucrative for the network to do so than say the same show with half the viewership running on a cable channel.

#4 TinChicago


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Posted 22 June 2009 - 09:16 PM

OMG, I am already dreading the next break!!!! What am I going to do until January??
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#5 NatashaFatale


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Posted 22 June 2009 - 09:39 PM

In addition to what FiRocks said, this news article explains the benefits of shorter seasons for cable:

Here's a summary of the points from the article:
-Shorter seasons often allow the creative teams to make better shows as well because they can lavish more time on individual episodes.
- Shorter production schedules lure bigger stars. A 13-episode season allows A-list talent like Saving Grace's Hunter, Damages' Close and Weeds' Mary-Louise Parker to maintain their feature and stage careers.
-While the networks have lined their June to September schedules with sub-par reality shows and myriad reruns, their cable competitors take advantage of the relatively clutter-free period by airing scripted originals (think USA's Burn Notice) to great success.
-In addition to the scheduling flexibility that abbreviated seasons allow, writers and actors alike benefit from a greater creative license to delve into deeper and often morally ambiguous territory.
-in addition to cable's dual revenue streams (advertising dollars and subscription fees) as opposed to broadcast's singular ad-supported model, cable has far fewer programming hours to fill and less fare to promote.


#6 Alexenjie



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Posted 23 June 2009 - 01:38 PM

Thank you for that Forbes article - it helped a lot. I would still like to see more Burn Notice during the year but at least now I understand why we don't. I pretty much stick to cable for TV series and have given up on the big network series.