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The publishing format defines the art: How VHS changed movie runtimes

1 min read

Since streaming services took over most TV show production, I wondered why we’re still stuck with strictly 22 or 45 minute TV shows.These timeslots were defined in the TV era to cleanly schedule the “primetime” slows and to keep 15min per hour of ad timeslots. None of this matters in the 2020 streaming landscape.

I had a similar hunch that movies used to have a wider range of runtimes, whereas now they’re all around 120 minutes. The movie dataset confirms the intuition:

When I saw the sharp drop in runtimes (and narrowing of range of runtimes), I searched and found it began on the exact year VHS were released in America.

Similarly, I’m hoping we’ll get a book publishing landscape which is open to short stories again instead of the strict “170 to 450 pages” we’re in now.

Originally published on by Matt Ranger