Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World Part 27 - The Half Hour Drama Is Back

Marketing Fiction In A Changing World
Part 27
The Half Hour Drama Is Back
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

When Television first started, most shows were a half-hour -- Lone Ranger, Howdy Doody, etc.

Then Hallmark Theater and other later evening shows went to an hour format.

A half hour show is about 20-odd minutes of show, plus commercials.

Today an hour show is about 46 or 47 minutes of show, plus commercials.

In May, 2017, we are just beginning to see the flood of web-TV, shows made for the web distribution system, with and without commercials.  Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and many more are making original adventure, drama, and commentary non-fiction for web distribution via streaming.

AT&T announced their thinking about the 20-minute adventure/drama in this item.


This represents their corporate thinking about the attention span of the target audience for Game of Thrones.

If they buy a 20 minute script, they will insert 10 minutes of commercials from which they pay Game of Thrones producer, and keep the rest.

Maybe you should think about buying AT&T stock?

Or re-think the structuring of your stories (where you put the internal climaxes) so you can sub-divide your novels into 20-minute scripts.

See last week's post on how to untangle a story idea into a linear sequence of scenes.


To pick up the rhythm of how such a story would go, listen to some old radio -- Lone Ranger, Tom Mix, Fibber McGee and Molly - (whatever you can find).

By the time I Love Lucy was on TV, the hour format had taken hold.  Check out the actual time the script ran vs the air-time it took with commercials, and compare that to today's 1-hour format shows.

YouTube and other streaming distribution channels (check Roku and Apple TV for distributors) will be in the market for short scripts.  We are in a world that has no attention span and little patience.

Learn to think 20-minute installments - starting with a sharp hook, ending with a cliff-hanger.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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