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Is Broadcast Television Going Backwards?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have noticed a small trend this year that I am pleased about, but that confuses me. When I started recording on DVDs, (won't say how many years ago) the length of an average network program allowed me to only out two episodes per disk. Over time, the programs gradually got slightly shorter, just a little bit, until eventually it reached the point where I could fit three episodes of a show on one DVD. It has been like this for a number of years. This year, to my surprise, there are several shows that I really have to work at fitting three episodes per disk. It's tight, to the point that the title cards I generate for the shows need to be shorter, and I have to cut the closing credits (not an issue really).

The last few years, that has not been the case, but this year, three or four programs are like this. My DVD recorder hasn't reduced the amount it can put on a blank DVD, so it must be the program lengths, right? Are they INCREASING the length of network programming (CBS, NBC, ABC) or is it something else I'm missing?

I am happy about this if true, but I am also surprised that it would happen. Would the big three netowrks really increase the length of their programs? On the other hand, I'm told (haven't done it myself) that there are shows on the WB that once the commercials are removed, are UNDER 40 minutes long!
post #2 of 23
Some of Fox's shows have had "extended length episodes," like House and I think Fringe, tacking on a few extra minutes.

Occasionally some shows will start a tad later, like at 9:01 instead of 9pm on the dot because the previous episode was extended a bit.

Definitely been noticeable.
post #3 of 23
I've noticed it, but not consistently: I think it depends which shows you're following and if most of them just happen to be running a bit longer.

I've personally only seen longer runtime consistently with some cable shows, where I used to easily fit 6 sitcoms on a DVD but now I have to trim a bit. Broadcast shows I haven't had a problem with, except as Tulpa says for the occasional overlong "Fringe" or on ABC, which has adopted TBS' old annoying habit of running two minutes long just to make it impossible to timeshit away from them. If I didn't have more than one recorder, ABC would have been a nightmare this year since their extended running times inevitably collide with subsequent shows I follow on competing channels.
post #4 of 23
I liked what TV Land did/does when showing old 60s/70s/80s shows. Extend the programming slots for each episode: 7:00-7:35, 7:35-8:10, etc. That way they could show the original episodes without having to make cuts. I don't think they've done that in a while.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
I have notice this on Fringe, Once Upon A Time, Person of Interest, and Grimm, one from each network, FOX, ABC, CBS, NBC.

I really HATE the TV Land broadcast schedule. It's really difficult to work with in my opinion.
post #6 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy View Post

My DVD recorder hasn't reduced the amount it can put on a blank DVD, so it must be the program lengths, right?

I think programs with lots of fast action and bright color shifts take more disc space in a given amount of time than slow moving, black and white, or shows with steady camera work do. A hockey game or an episode of CSI Miami would take more space per hour than I Love Lucy or Casablanca.
post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken.F View Post

I think programs with lots of fast action and bright color shifts take more disc space in a given amount of time than slow moving, black and white, or shows with steady camera work do. A hockey game or an episode of CSI Miami would take more space per hour than I Love Lucy or Casablanca.

It doesn't work that way, as explained here, otherwise a Lady Gaga video would eat up your HDD!
post #8 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

It doesn't work that way, as explained here, otherwise a Lady Gaga video would eat up your HDD!

OK, then I edited my post to make it much shorter.

If color has nothing to do with it, why does a black screen source video take forever to overwrite the empty title on a DVD?
post #9 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken.F View Post

OK, then I edited my post to make it much shorter.

If color has nothing to do with it, why does a black screen source video take forever to overwrite the empty title on a DVD?

Because black screen has *no* video (it's the absence of video as opposed to white, full video).
post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Because black screen has *no* video (it's the absence of video as opposed to white, full video).

Thanks for the explanation and your patience. I'm having a hard time understanding it.

If white is full video and black is no video, does one pixel of white on a black field take the same amount of disc space as a full white picture? If not, wouldn't darker images require less disc space than brighter ones?
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken.F View Post

Thanks for the explanation and your patience. I'm having a hard time understanding it.

If white is full video and black is no video, does one pixel of white on a black field take the same amount of disc space as a full white picture? If not, wouldn't darker images require less disc space than brighter ones?

Well, it prob. gets tricky when talking about "black-screen" like on a line input with no source feed vs. a video scene with black stuff, like clothes, hair, etc. or "rendering" of black. The former is *no* video so you're recording *mostly or only* the audio track at 0.84 or 0.87 Mbps with our Funais, as shown in the table here?
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by wajo View Post

Well, it prob. gets tricky when talking about "black-screen" like on a line input with no source feed vs. a video scene with black stuff, like clothes, hair, etc. or "rendering" of black. The former is *no* video so you're recording *mostly or only* the audio track at 0.84 or 0.87 Mbps with our Funais, as shown in the table here?

Trying to understand it a bit better, I just watched an episode of Terra Nova that I recorded on DVD (SP) with the 513. My DVD player has a bit rate meter so I turned it on to see if I could figure out what causes the bit rate to go up or down. The bit rate seems to mostly stay around 4-5 Mbps for night and indoor scenes. The bit rate is a little higher during daylight outdoor scenes. Slow camera pans across complex backgrounds don't seem to impact the bit rate much if everything is moving in the same direction. Objects moving in different directions bump the bit rate up some. The bit rate really drops when passing over an edit point. Sometimes the bit rate goes up or down for no apparent reason. I think I have a better understanding but I won't say I have it completely figured out.
post #13 of 23
I haven't noticed this as much lately (perhaps because I record on the DVR rather than on DVDs), but for a while certain shows (LOST was one) ran a minute or 2 over. No one fessed up to it at the time, but I suspected that the networks wanted to mess with our viewing habits. If we watched an "overtime" show, we'd miss the beginning of a show on another network, making us decide which show we'd rather watch. Now that you can watch one show "live" and one on the DVR (or both on the DVR!), I'm noticing this less. The networks are trying to get us to watch "live" and not skip commercials (understandably). Maybe this is just the latest tactic.
post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken.F View Post

...If white is full video and black is no video, does one pixel of white on a black field take the same amount of disc space as a full white picture? If not, wouldn't darker images require less disc space than brighter ones?

I may not have all the 'terms' correct, but, DVD recordings are similar in concept to computer FULL Backups vs INCREMENTAL Backups.

AFAIK, there's a 'Key Frame', which contains ALL the information, like a FULL Backup. Then there are 15 'Other Frames', which contain just the DIFFERENCES between it and preceding frame, like an INCREMENTAL Backup.

So, when I need to Overwrite the last 'Dummy' entry on my Mag 2160A, I choose HQ and a HD 'Fast Action' show like sports. I notice if the Menu says I have ~9 minutes @ HQ, if the action isn't fast enough, sometimes it will run for 11+ minutes until all of the space is used up.

Thus, IMO, ALL Black or ALL White 'No Action' screens will both take a LONG time to use up the space since there isn't any action and the 'Other Frames' have no differences to account for.

HTH.

BTW, another place where I've noticed this 'discrepancy' is TCM Letterbox (2.35:1 IIRC) movies over 2:30:00 (AND over the HSD 'Extra Space') recorded @ SPP were able to be HSD'd to a DVD. Those 'Black Bars' at the top and bottom cut down the differences and used less MBs.
post #15 of 23
Monthly Cable Fees, 2009:
LL
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by DigaDo View Post

Monthly Cable Fees, 2009:

thanks for that chart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by crabboy View Post

I haven't noticed this as much lately (perhaps because I record on the DVR rather than on DVDs), but for a while certain shows (LOST was one) ran a minute or 2 over. No one fessed up to it at the time, but I suspected that the networks wanted to mess with our viewing habits. If we watched an "overtime" show, we'd miss the beginning of a show on another network, making us decide which show we'd rather watch. Now that you can watch one show "live" and one on the DVR (or both on the DVR!), I'm noticing this less. The networks are trying to get us to watch "live" and not skip commercials (understandably). Maybe this is just the latest tactic.

If that were true, you'd think it would have stopped in the early 00's when DVRs were introduced. But shows like Lost (2004-2010) never aired outside of the DVR era. And there is still the occasional "extended" episode on shows like House and Fringe (and others.)
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tulpa View Post

If that were true, you'd think it would have stopped in the early 00's when DVRs were introduced. But shows like Lost (2004-2010) never aired outside of the DVR era. And there is still the occasional "extended" episode on shows like House and Fringe (and others.)

It does seem to happen less frequently now. And DVRs are much more prevalent now that in the early 00s. All speculation on my part anyway. Maybe I'm cynical, but I wouldn't put it past the networks, who struggle with the DVR vs commercials problem.
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClearToLand View Post

I may not have all the 'terms' correct, but, DVD recordings are similar in concept to computer FULL Backups vs INCREMENTAL Backups.

AFAIK, there's a 'Key Frame', which contains ALL the information, like a FULL Backup. Then there are 15 'Other Frames', which contain just the DIFFERENCES between it and preceding frame, like an INCREMENTAL Backup.

That sounds good to me. Even if the "terms" aren't correct it's very understandable.

Quote:
So, when I need to Overwrite the last 'Dummy' entry on my Mag 2160A, I choose HQ and a HD 'Fast Action' show like sports. I notice if the Menu says I have ~9 minutes @ HQ, if the action isn't fast enough, sometimes it will run for 11+ minutes until all of the space is used up.

Thus, IMO, ALL Black or ALL White 'No Action' screens will both take a LONG time to use up the space since there isn't any action and the 'Other Frames' have no differences to account for.

HTH.

BTW, another place where I've noticed this 'discrepancy' is TCM Letterbox (2.35:1 IIRC) movies over 2:30:00 (AND over the HSD 'Extra Space') recorded @ SPP were able to be HSD'd to a DVD. Those 'Black Bars' at the top and bottom cut down the differences and used less MBs.

That's also my experience.

I just clicked the spoiler in the other thread.
post #20 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by crabboy View Post

I haven't noticed this as much lately (perhaps because I record on the DVR rather than on DVDs), but for a while certain shows (LOST was one) ran a minute or 2 over. No one fessed up to it at the time, but I suspected that the networks wanted to mess with our viewing habits. If we watched an "overtime" show, we'd miss the beginning of a show on another network, making us decide which show we'd rather watch. Now that you can watch one show "live" and one on the DVR (or both on the DVR!), I'm noticing this less. The networks are trying to get us to watch "live" and not skip commercials (understandably). Maybe this is just the latest tactic.


I agree with this observation. I definitely feel it is so one can't record channel x from 8 to 9 then go to channel y from 9 to 10. The choice is missing the beginning or the end of a show. I would think it is very difficult to program for this to fit on a DVD as they run it. Since I time-shift, I find I just start the 8:31 show at 8:30 and give an extra 5 minutes at the end in case they stick in any extra commercials. Easy to do when I am not keeping any of these past one viewing. However, if you are putting together a library...I would definitely look out for the networks' "new" idea of program times.
post #21 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by microladyusa View Post

I agree with this observation. I definitely feel it is so one can't record channel x from 8 to 9 then go to channel y from 9 to 10. The choice is missing the beginning or the end of a show. I would think it is very difficult to program for this to fit on a DVD as they run it. Since I time-shift, I find I just start the 8:31 show at 8:30 and give an extra 5 minutes at the end in case they stick in any extra commercials. Easy to do when I am not keeping any of these past one viewing. However, if you are putting together a library...I would definitely look out for the networks' "new" idea of program times.

I do the same thing--start five minutes early and end five minutes late--whenever the schedule allows. It has been a very good practice for those pesky programmers who think that running over will prevent channel switching.

That wasn't what I was getting at with my original post however, I was talking about the program length after the commercials have been removed and the show has been completely edited. Two years ago, every show I was archiving saw short enough to allow me to put three complete episodes per disk. Today, there are three prime-time shows that three episodes come in at about 104% the disk capacity. What I found odd was, that the atual (edited) program length has, in a few cases, INCREASED from two years ago. Hence the "backward" term in the thread title. I would have expected the (actual) program length to keep getting shorter, a little at a time.
post #22 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Church AV Guy View Post

I do the same thing--start five minutes early and end five minutes late--whenever the schedule allows. It has been a very good practice for those pesky programmers who think that running over will prevent channel switching.

That wasn't what I was getting at with my original post however, I was talking about the program length after the commercials have been removed and the show has been completely edited. Two years ago, every show I was archiving saw short enough to allow me to put three complete episodes per disk. Today, there are three prime-time shows that three episodes come in at about 104% the disk capacity. What I found odd was, that the atual (edited) program length has, in a few cases, INCREASED from two years ago. Hence the "backward" term in the thread title. I would have expected the (actual) program length to keep getting shorter, a little at a time.

Yes, that does seem odd. The only thing I can think of that might make them add episode time to the new time stretch would be that if they just added commercial time, users would catch on and know they would only miss commercials rather than the start or end of a show. I think they also could make up somewhat for the extra viewing by having those pesky little characters running across the bottom of the screen advertising other shows. I know that irritates me...seems to be no way to edit that out.

Good thing you noticed before having done a lot of recording and afterwards finding out your disk has been "overrun". I know if I do put something now on a DVD to preserve it...I will definitely keep in mind what you have noticed. Thank you for the information. Hope you have found a way to deal with it.
post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by microladyusa View Post

...Good thing you noticed before having done a lot of recording and afterwards finding out your disk has been "overrun". I know if I do put something now on a DVD to preserve it...I will definitely keep in mind what you have noticed. Thank you for the information. Hope you have found a way to deal with it.

For me it isn't a REAL issue because all of my DVD recorders, are equipped with a hard drive. I don't recall ever burning straight to a disk (maybe sometime in the past I did). I always record to the HDD, edit, then HS copy to the blank DVD. Of course, the two ways of dealing with this are: 1) elimiate some of the content, usually closing credits, or 2) copy the third title to the disk not in high speed, but in realtime, using the flexable record feature which wil always fit the content onto the remainig disk space. It does cost a bit of quality though, or course.
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