TV Industry

Go behind the scenes of the TV industry to learn how TV shows are produced.

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How U.S. Public Broadcasting Works

Public broadcasting in the U.S. is divided into NPR for radio and PBS for TV. Both have been on the air for years and remain popular, amid recurring calls for government defunding. Here's why.

Why Do Ads Say 'the Big Game' Instead of 'the Super Bowl'?

Although the NFL might seem particularly litigious, experts say the organization is just protecting itself from trademark infringement.

Now You Have Another Reason to Neflix

Here's the math behind that stat, for all you cord cutters or would-be cord cutters.

Are Super Bowl Ads Really Worth $30 Million?

Well, it depends on who else is showing commercials during the big game.

10 Most Game-Changing Developments in the TV Industry

The TV itself isn't the only thing that's changed over the last 65-plus years in the industry. Many things—some good, some, well, not so good—have contributed to America's obsession with the boob tube.

10 Highest-paid TV Actors of All Time

Cha-ching! Talk about cashing in. Most TV actors are well paid, and then there are these TV actors. Their comedies may have had us in stitches, but they were the ones laughing — all the way to the bank.

How do reality TV shows choose their cast?

Ever wonder how those crazy folks you watch on reality TV land on those shows? Are they related to the show's director or something? Nope. Reality TV producers use several methods to cast their shows.

How do they decide which TV shows to air?

It always happens. You, your mom, your neighbor and everybody else you know gets wrapped up in a new TV show, only to have the TV network cancel it. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason as to which TV shows survive on air. Or is there?

How do they really shoot reality TV shows?

Ever wondered how reality TV shows really film all of that unscripted insanity? No need to wonder any longer. One of the HowStuffWorks writers tells what happened when reality TV came knocking on her door.

Just how fake are reality TV shows?

Oh, reality TV: fights, scheming, double-crossing, tears and drama. All of this "unscripted" reality can't possibly be real. So what's real, and what's fake in reality TV?

Can a TV actor live off royalties forever?

Ah, the charmed life of a TV actor: have one big hit TV show and then live like a king for years once all of those royalty checks start rolling in. Is that how royalties really work?

What does a showrunner do?

The public's knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes of our favorite TV shows is usually pretty good. We often know who most of the writers, producers and executive producers are. Now we're learning a new term: showrunner.

Who decides what words you can't say on TV?

You can hear an awful lot of foul language when watching your favorite movies or shows — as long as they air on cable or the Internet. Who decides which words are too hot for broadcast TV?

How did cable TV become a staple?

Cable TV is ubiquitous now, but a little more than 50 years ago it was the unique, exotic way to see your favorite TV programs. What made cable TV a staple?

What are TV upfronts?

It's a sure sign of spring in New York. Flowers? No, TV's upfront presentations. TV networks use upfronts to show off their new shows, and rake in advertisers' money.

Who runs public access TV channels?

Those cable access channels you flip through may sometimes be the butt of jokes, but public access TV serves an important function in many communities.

What is TV Everywhere?

Want to watch your favorite TV show tonight but won't be home? That's not a problem, with TV Everywhere. It's rapidly changing how we watch TV.

How does 'live+3' work in television metrics?

You think binge-watching your favorite show weeks after its episodes air will help pump up its ratings? Think again. Live+3 television ratings metrics have changed things considerably.

How are TV commercials produced?

The average TV commercial is 30 seconds. So they should be fairly easy to shoot, right? Just slap together a concept, a product and some actors and that should do it. Not so fast, TV commercial production gets super complex really quickly.

Do TV actors get paid in royalties?

Authors, songwriters and even playwrights receive royalties as payment for their copyrighted works. So what about actors -- do they get royalties when their movies or TV shows are seen over and over?

Why don't all TV networks stream their shows online?

Streaming TV shows online seems like it makes sense for the networks. So why aren't all shows available via the Internet? We'll explain.

What's a 'TV-ready' movie?

If you've ever watched a Hollywood film on your TV, you've watched a TV-ready movie. It's quite a job for film editors to get a film TV-ready. We'll explain the process.

Why do TV shows premiere in the fall?

You know you can't wait until the season premiere of your favorite show. But have you ever wondered why the networks' new seasons start in the fall? You might be surprised by the answer.

Are 24-hour news channels on their way out?

When CNN debuted in 1980, the 24-hour news network was taking a leap into the unknown. Now we can get our news anywhere, anytime thanks to tablets, smartphones and the Internet. Could 24-hour news stations could be gone in our lifetime?

Will we ever have a la carte cable?

Imagine never having to pay for C-SPAN. It's a possibility if a la carte cable ever comes to fruition.


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