After several hours of local and network news and some of the most popular early evening game shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy (a show which, oddly, awards money only to intelligent people), the “prime time” period between 8:00 and 11:00pm begins.
Prime time content differs from channel to channel, network to cable, from weekday to weekend. On network television, prime time is filled with dramatic and comedy series that feature major actors and heavy media coverage. Most of these shows last only one or two 13-week seasons, but some run for many years. Special shows such as the Academy Awards or Emmy Awards presentations are always prime time. Networks occasionally show news feature programs on important national issues during prime time, and cover presidential new conferences.
Documentary cable networks like History Channel and Animal Planet introduce their new programming during these hours, repeating these programs frequently during off hours. On paid cable movie channels such as HBO, Showtime, Starz and Encore, as well as Turner Classic Movies (which is usually included in basic cable packages), the 8:00pm film is the featured showing of the day. Even public television arranges its most popular programming for the prime time hours.
On both network and cable, reality shows and talent competitions, which are extremely popular, utilize some or most of the 8:00 to 11:00pm period on many nights.
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