A live television show set and cameras

A television show (often simply TV show) is any content produced for broadcast via over-the-air, satellite, cable, or internet and typically viewed on a television set, excluding breaking news, advertisements, or trailers that are typically placed between shows. Television shows are most often scheduled well ahead of time and appear on electronic guides or other TV listings.

A television show might also be called a television program (British English: programme), especially if it lacks a narrative structure. A television series is usually released in episodes that follow a narrative, and are usually divided into seasons (US and Canada) or series (UK) – yearly or semiannual sets of new episodes. A show with a limited number of episodes may be called a miniseries, serial, or limited series. A one-time show may be called a "special". A television film ("made-for-TV movie" or "television movie") is a film that is initially broadcast on television rather than released in theaters or direct-to-video.

Television shows can be viewed as they are broadcast in real time (live), be recorded on home video or a digital video recorder for later viewing, or be viewed on demand via a set-top box or streamed over the internet.

History

A television program listing from 1941.

The first television shows were experimental, sporadic broadcasts viewable only within a very short range from the broadcast tower starting in the 1930s. Televised events such as the 1936 Summer Olympics in Germany, the 1937 coronation of King George VI in the UK, and David Sarnoff's famous introduction at the 1939 New York World's Fair in the US spurred a growth in the medium, but World War II put a halt to development until after the war. The 1947 World Series inspired many Americans to buy their first television set and then in 1948, the popular radio show Texaco Star Theater made the move and became the first weekly televised variety show, earning host Milton Berle the name "Mr Television" and demonstrating that the medium was a stable, modern form of entertainment which could attract advertisers. The first national live television broadcast in the US took place on September 4, 1951 when President Harry Truman's speech at the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco was transmitted over AT&T's transcontinental cable and microwave radio relay system to broadcast stations in local markets.[1][2][3]

The first national color broadcast (the 1954 Tournament of Roses Parade) in the US occurred on January 1, 1954. During the following ten years most network broadcasts, and nearly all local programming, continued to be in black-and-white. A color transition was announced for the fall of 1965, during which over half of all network prime-time programming would be broadcast in color. The first all-color prime-time season came just one year later. In 1972, the last holdout among daytime network shows converted to color, resulting in the first completely all-color network season.

Formats and genres

Television shows are more varied than most other forms of media due wide variety formats and genres that can be presented. A show may be fictional (as in comedies and dramas), or non-fictional (as in documentary, news, and reality television). It may be topical (as in the case of a local newscast and some made-for-television films), or historical (as in the case of many documentaries and fictional series). They could be primarily instructional or educational, or entertaining as is the case in situation comedy and game shows.[citation needed]

A drama program usually features a set of actors playing characters in a historical or contemporary setting. The program follows their lives and adventures. Except for soap opera-type serials, many shows especially before the 1980s, remained static without story arcs, and the main characters and premise changed little.[citation needed] If some change happened to the characters' lives during the episode, it was usually undone by the end. Because of this, the episodes could be broadcast in any order.[citation needed] Since the 1980s, there are many series that feature progressive change to the plot, the characters, or both. For instance, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere were two of the first American prime time drama television series to have this kind of dramatic structure.[4][better source needed] While the later series, Babylon 5 is an extreme example of such production that had a predetermined story running over its intended five-season run.[citation needed]

In 2012, it was reported that television was growing into a larger component of major media companies' revenues than film.[5] Some also noted the increase in quality of some television programs. In 2012, Academy-Award-winning film director Steven Soderbergh, commenting on ambiguity and complexity of character and narrative, stated: "I think those qualities are now being seen on television and that people who want to see stories that have those kinds of qualities are watching television."[6]

Production