Sixty Minutes

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Despite the widespread belief that Americans' attention spans are getting shorter, the programs on television seem to be getting longer. According to data compiled by American Demographics and, more than half (57 percent) of all prime-time TV shows that will air this fall are an hour or longer in length. But that hasn't always been the case. In fact, 30-minute programs constituted the majority of the prime-time lineup as recently as 1997. Interestingly, reality TV shows — which often employ rapid-fire edit techniques à la MTV — may be helping the longer programs sustain their advantage over shorter shows. This fall, a record 10 programs on the roster are of the reality genre, including six that are an hourlong. (See related story on demographics of reality TV watchers in Media Channels, page 34).

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