why do old tv series have so many episodes per season?

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  • Anonymous
    2 months ago
    Best Answer

    It's not old tv series, its network tv.

    Before the 1990s almost all scripted tv shows were on the three (later four) broadcast networks. There were a few scripted sit coms on cable, but most content on the then few cable channels were movies, reruns of old tv shows, sporting events, or specialty programming like music on MTV. It wasn't until the 1990s when you really began to get some scripted dramas on cable tv and not really until the 20th century with the debut of Mad Men on AMC that scripted shows for cable tv really exploded.

    So the shows were broadcast on network tv, but what does that have to do with episode count? Broadcast networks make their money by selling commercials. The shows draw people in and the networks sell air time to advertisers. Because of this, networks needed original scripted programming to cover much of the year. They don't bother airing much programming in summer because they assumed people were on vacation and they didn't air much in December and late November because they assume that people are involved in holiday events. So if you take 22-24 episodes, a typical network tv season, then that covers much of the remaining year (when you factor in school breaks, holidays, and some time for reruns).

    Cable channels are different. The premium ones like HBO, don't sell ads at all. They make their money through subscribers. So it's not as critical that they keep eyeballs on them at all times. A hit show like Game of Thrones doesn't have to air all the time to make HBO money. All it has to do is keep people subscribed to the channel. Most premium cable channels try to keep some original scripted content going throughout most of the year in order to keep people susbscribed. But it doesn't matter if someone watches HBO every hour, or even every day. As long as they subscribe for that month HBO makes its money. But cable networks generally have less money to spend than the broadcast networks. Channels like CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX go into virtually every home in the country and reach tons and tons of people. While their shows are not as artistically central to our pop culture landscape as they used to be, many of them still get high viewership that only the biggest cable shows can compete with. These networks make a lot of money. Which means that they've got a lot of money to spend on tv shows. NBC can afford to pay for 22 episodes a year of a Law and Order SVU, or a Chicago Fire. But cable networks, especially the non-premium networks which have broken into scripted programming in the last decade or so, don't have as much money to spend. So the traditional cable tv season for a show became defined as 12-13 episodes, about half of a network tv show. Also, the more limited budget means that producing a 22 episode show might proclude a channel from buying other tv shows. For a broadcast network, which has to fill time, a long season of a show might be good. But for a cable network, which wants to get people subscribed, it might be bad. If HBO produced a 22 episode season of Westworld that might be great for fans of Westworld, who would get to watch it for much of the year. But then they might not have money to pay for a Euphoria, or a Veep, or a Big Little Lies. If you don't care for Westworld then maybe you wouldn't bother to subscribe to HBO. Keeping the seasons shorter allows for cable networks to air a more diverse slate of programming which can appeal to a wider audience.

  • David
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    First and foremost, TV production was a lot cheaper.

    Secondly, during the 50s, there were no "reruns."  The average show was broadcast live, for 39 weeks, from September to May.  After that, it went on "hiatus" until the next season.  During that time, the slot would be filled by a "summer replacement series."  If that was good enough, it was added to the schedule.  This format began to change in the early 60s, as it became cheaper to film in color (and early experiments in video tape).  Since then, the average season is 22 episodes...with reruns.  

  • Walt
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    because the shows ran more then 9 months they ran for 10 or 11 months

  • Kathy
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Because TV seasons lasted longer than they do now.

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  • 2 months ago

    Until about the 90's the tv season was early sept- early June- with repeat or 'summer replacement shows. Fewer channels/streaming was not a thing.

    also there is the costs of shows now- a single episode of a drama series can cost a Million dollars or more these days.

  • 2 months ago

    Because they used to make enough for a half year of original programming and a half year of repeats.

  • zeno
    Lv 6
    2 months ago

    Liberals take away things gradually. Everything

    Was better in old tv series.

  • Bill
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    When there were only three major television networks and no VCRs or DVDs, people got used to watching certain channels at certain times each night. If a show was a rerun, they would change the channel, and the station wouldn't make as much money from advertising.

  • 2 months ago

    For a long, long while, a standard season was considered roughly 30 episodes. The 12 weeks over summer was a dry spell for television watchers, where only re-runs would play. The goal of any show was to reach the golden number of 100 episodes, which is the point where a studio would be able to syndicate it... meaning they could lease broadcasting rights to other networks. Doing this meant the episodes could continue to make money long past their air date.

    Now, in the future, 100 episodes no longer has any meaning. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon will pay big to pick up the rights to anything that's popular, and so a studio is better off heavily investing into top actors, writers, and special effects if only to attract a mainstream crows. Such investments means the cost of producing episodes has skyrocketed.

    Let's put it this way... The original Star Trek cost roughly $190,00 per episode to produce. The new Star Trek Discovery cost $8.5 million an episode. So obviously a shorter season and quicker track to syndication is more important.

  • 2 months ago

    Because back then, people still have high attention span. nowadays they can only keep their attention for 10 episodes per season

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