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How cable networks speed up shows to squeeze in more ads

Steve Dent, @stevetdent
February 19, 2015
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If you're still watching cable, it turns out that channels like TBS and TNT are now speeding up syndicated programs, classics films and other shows by as much as 7 percent. We hadn't noticed it much ourselves, but the trend was spotted by Snopes and others thanks to a YouTube user who compared the same programs aired now and several years ago. A Seinfeld episode that originally ran 25 minutes was nearly 22 after the process, letting the broadcaster fit in about six extra spots. As the WSJ pointed out, ads now run an average of 15.8 minutes per hour on cable, and one unnamed cable exec said that "it's a way to keep the revenue from going down as much as the ratings."

The practice has been prevalent in radio for years, but was technically difficult to achieve in TV until recently due to poor image quality. As we've reported before, cable and premium channels are losing viewership to Netflix and other less aggravating forms of content delivery. In order to make up for the lost revenue, TNT et. al. are speeding up syndicated shows like Seinfeld and Friends in a way that's not too noticeable, letting them fit in a few more ads per half hour.

They're also irritating classic movie lovers by speeding up films like the Wizard of Oz and King Kong (1933), giving the big ape a less menacing growl. The stations might be squeezing out a few more bucks, but as some Redditors pointed out, they're probably turning even more folks away from cable.

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