While a commercial network sitcom airs for a 30-minute period, the actual program time (length of scripted content) is only 20-22 minutes. It varies from network-to-network. It’s even less time with shows in syndication. Writers have to take into consideration where to have certain scenes end and pick up between commercials. As they say, ‘time is of the essence’ with regard to this critical timing. If a show is produced and recorded which runs over it’s allotted time, the network will ‘kick’ it back to the production company to trim down the time. It has to be exactly what the network requires.
When you think about it, this is where the networks are at a disadvantage over streaming services like Netflix since they do not have that time restraint that the networks must adhere to each hour of the day. If a Netflix shows runs over or under the a specified time, it is not really a problem. Since I work on both a traditional network show and a Netflix show, I see this by the number of pages on a script.
For this assignment, pick a 30-minute sitcom of your choice. It must be on a commercial network or local station. Do not view a program on Netflix or any commercial-free venues. It can be a current show in production or an older one now in off-network syndication.
If you do not have a TV or cable, just watch a program on one of the network’s streaming websites. When shown online, they include commercials which will satisfy the elements for this paper.
The requirements for the assignment are at the bottom of this page. You will identify both the ‘A’ and ‘B’ story lines although you do not have to give a complete summary of the material. More importantly, identify what the storylines are about. Inventory the various ‘stop sets’ (commercial breaks) and by noting the advertising, which age groups do you think the sponsors are looking for. Summarize your findings and draw a conclusion.