Since that time the length of the TV season has been shrinking from 52 to 50 to 36 to 32 to 18 and now as little as 12 episodes a year. The incentive was not so much time off, as it was that reruns pulled ratings without costing any additional money, increasing profits from advertising.
Then came the idea go sell the programs for reuse. First to local affiliates, then to independent stations, then to cable and satellite and eventually for DVD use. At each step of the reason was to profit from the original product without spending large amounts of money to produce new episodes,
Morning Edition on National public Radio explains that the age of the rerun and back end income for producers and talent, may be drawing to a rapid close.
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