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View Full Version : Why not start Prime Time at the same time in all timezones?


The Controvert
05-30-2008, 07:27 AM
Growing up in the midwest, I love that Prime Time starts at 7, not at the unnaturally late time of 8pm. East and west coasters, do you prefer 8pm, or would you rather it start earlier?

The switchover to digital could've been a great opportunity to sync the nation. No more "8 o'clock, 7 central" confusion!

Why do we still have this anomaly? Inertia of tradition?

RealityChuck
05-30-2008, 07:54 AM
Eight o'clock is just fine for me. I'm not ready to watch TV at 7:00.

You also have the issue of people living near the time zone border. Someone in Eastern Indiana would have shows starting at different times depending on where the TV station was located. If a show started at the same time in both time zones, the shows from Ohio stations would start an hour earlier (7 central, 6 Eastern). That would only create more confusion.

Chefguy
05-30-2008, 08:34 AM
For some reason, Alaska runs primetime just like the midwest. Maybe it's because there are so many displaced Minnesotans up here. I like it. News at ten is mobetta for me.

Freddy the Pig
05-30-2008, 09:09 AM
As Cecil put it so long ago, we midwesterners "like to rack out early after a hard day of mowing the alfalfa". The rest of the country will never get into step with our hayseed ways, nor we with theirs.

Musicat
05-30-2008, 09:24 AM
As someone who grew up in the Midwest, then spent 30 years on the West Coast, then came back to the Midwest, the time zones as currently used seem to work. I found I was staying up late and getting up late on the coast, and now get up early and go to bed early in the Midwest. However, that may be due to other factors than purely geographic location.

Amblydoper
05-30-2008, 10:04 AM
With DVRs and VOD, why do we need a prime-time at all? A show could be aired simultaneously across the nation, and after that time, anyone could watch the show whenever they wanted. The existing advertisement model wouldn't work, but a new system could be developed. People watch recorded or VOD shows from beginning to end, and don't usually switch to something else mid-show. 2 or 3 primary adds could be placed within the time frame of the program, instead of repeating the same ads over and over hoping to catch the channel flippers.

Hal Briston
05-30-2008, 11:44 AM
Agreed...with DVR, it doesn't matter to me at all.

That said, I'd prefer it if Monday Night Football would start an hour earlier.

as_u_wish
05-30-2008, 11:58 AM
When I lived on the East Coast and West Coast, work seemed to start around 8:30 or 9:00. Here in the midwest we start work 7:00 or 7:30. Both seem(ed) normal at the time. But it sure makes sense to have the "good TV" start earlier when your day starts earlier.

Voyager
05-30-2008, 12:25 PM
When I lived in the MidWest I cared more about the end of the day than the beginning. I loved that Johnny Carson started at 10 - I often ate dinner to him. (I was in grad school.) Today, with DVRs, who cares?

I do enjoy living in California for live things. I can watch the Oscars and not have to stay up until 1 am to see the end.

kunilou
05-30-2008, 03:50 PM
What's this stuff about DVR? As of last year, only 17.2% of homes (http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=59363) had even one DVR. That means roughly 5 out of 6 homes (not to mention homes with more than one TV) watch the program when it's on, or don't watch it at all.

For that matter, about 15% of U.S. homes don't even have cable or satellite.

As for the whole 8:00/7:00 thing, that goes all the way back to when radio networks started to develop in the 1930s. For 75 years, people in the East have been getting their prime time later than people in the Midwest. Technically there's no reason it still has to be done that way. OTOH, there's no compelling reason to change, either.

Don't expect things to move too fast, either. Only 53% of homes have a broadband connection (http://gigaom.com/2007/06/07/53-of-us-homes-have-broadband/) which puts the idea of VOD on the back shelf.

pepperlandgirl
05-30-2008, 03:58 PM
After living in CA for 7 years, I am still trying to adjust to the fact that Prime Time starts 7 in Utah. I'm just not ready to watch television at 7. I'm convinced that's part of the reason I don't follow any regular prime time shows...I can never remember when the shows start.

iamthewalrus(:3=
05-30-2008, 04:49 PM
I do enjoy living in California for live things. I can watch the Oscars and not have to stay up until 1 am to see the end.The downside is having to get up too damned early on Sunday for football.

ETA: I don't see why the switch to digital broadcasting should change the times. My impression was that the timeshift was based on stations that served cities in both time zones, and that it was simpler to have them broadcast on one schedule. That wouldn't change with digital.

Voyager
05-30-2008, 04:56 PM
When I lived on the East Coast and West Coast, work seemed to start around 8:30 or 9:00. Here in the midwest we start work 7:00 or 7:30. Both seem(ed) normal at the time. But it sure makes sense to have the "good TV" start earlier when your day starts earlier.

It depends on what you do, I suppose. My poor financial planner has to start real early, when the markets open in NY. If we go to see him at 8 am, he's been there a while already.

I know most people don't have satellite, but for those of us who do time is also distorted. I get to see The Daily Show at 8pm, or at 10 if I miss that. (Though the 10 pm one has more sleazy ads.) Cable channels which basically repeat there programming for the West Coast give a lot of flexibility.

FatBaldGuy
05-30-2008, 05:12 PM
I think I've griped about this before, but us folks in the mountain time zone get the worst of both worlds.

Most national networks have 2 satellite feeds, one for the east coast and one (3 hours delayed) for the west coast. So if a show is on at 8:00 Eastern time, the people in the Eastern and Pacific time zones watch it at 8:00 and the people in the Central time zone know that it will be an hour earlier for them, and they watch it at 7:00.

In the Mountain time zone, it's up to the local cable company which feed they carry for each station, and they carry some of each. In fact in some cases they will carry the HD channel on the eastern feed and the normal channel on the western feed for the same station.

So, when the announcer says, "Be sure to watch tonight at 8:00" I can never be sure if I'm supposed to tune in at 6:00 or 9:00.

WarmNPrickly
05-30-2008, 05:29 PM
I didn't like the late start time on the west coast. I am ver glad to be back at 7:00 prime time.

Gary "Wombat" Robson
05-30-2008, 05:37 PM
What's this stuff about DVR? As of last year, only 17.2% of homes (http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=59363) had even one DVR. That means roughly 5 out of 6 homes (not to mention homes with more than one TV) watch the program when it's on, or don't watch it at all.What about the folks who record their favorite shows on videotape? Remember that? I've been timeshifting via VCR since around 1979 or 1980.

kunilou
05-30-2008, 08:27 PM
What about the folks who record their favorite shows on videotape? Remember that? I've been timeshifting via VCR since around 1979 or 1980.

I can't find much current, since the cutting edge research has moved away from VCRs to focus on later technologies, but one older survey I found noted that the majority of VCR users time-shifted less than 10% of their TV viewing. DVR owners (it was a new technology at the time of the survey) tended to shift a lot more.

Gary "Wombat" Robson
05-31-2008, 03:01 PM
I can't find much current, since the cutting edge research has moved away from VCRs to focus on later technologies, but one older survey I found noted that the majority of VCR users time-shifted less than 10% of their TV viewing. DVR owners (it was a new technology at the time of the survey) tended to shift a lot more.Good point. With the DVR, I timeshift nearly 100% of what I watch. I see it when I bloody well want to see it!

iturntoyou
06-01-2008, 11:54 PM
Polls indicate people like what they've grown up with and gotten used to.

The problem of prime time was a carry over from Radio. During the 30s radio started at 8pm. The issue was that at the time everything, except a few select shows would have to be done live. Petrillo and the musicians union required live music which almost every show had. They had a singer or such.

Remember in 1930, Los Angeles was not at a million yet and had just overtaken San Francisco to become the largest city. Seattle was the only major city on the Pacific. Mountain time had only Denver as a major city and Salt Lake City as a medium city. Even Phoenix the 5th largest city today had less than 50,000 people then.

Anyway the thing was radio would have to do a show then quickly repeat it. While it was hard but do-able with a half hour show, it was hard to do with an hour show. Even worse they would have to do a third show for LA and the pacific. This was time consuming.

Add to this was the fact radio in the 30s was AM. This ment that at night AM stations could be heard over great distances. If the show aired from NYC at 8pm people in Chicago (the second largest city then) could simply tune in a station from the eastern time zone. AM radio travels far.

So it was decided to do one broadcast at 8pm and make 7pm the prime time for Central. Then at when it was 8pm they would do another live show for California.

Radio was so busy, I recall reading about Frank Nelson and he would do two shows virtually together. He's the guy on Jack Benny that goes "Yeeeeeeessssss." (The Simpsons do a parody of him). He would have the Jack Benny writers write his lines so he could they would all be in the first fifteen minutes of the show. That way he could finish the Jack Benny show and race across town to the other show starting at the bottom of the hour.