48 Hours (TV series)

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For other uses, see 48 Hours.
48 Hours
48 Hours Mystry logo.png
Genre News magazine
Directed by Rob Klug
Presented by
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 26
No. of episodes 991[1]
Executive producer(s) Susan Zirinsky
Editor(s) Al Briganti
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) CBS News
Original channel CBS
Picture format 480i (4:3 SDTV) (1988-2000) 720p (4:3 SDTV) (2000-2011)
1080i (16:9 HDTV) (2011-present)
Original run January 19, 1988 (1988-01-19) – present
External links

48 Hours is an American documentary/news magazine television series that airs on CBS. The series has been broadcast on the network since January 19, 1988. 48 Hours airs Saturday nights at 10 p.m. (Eastern and Pacific time)/9 p.m. (Central and Mountain time) as part of the network's placeholder Crimetime Saturday block; as such, the series is currently one of only two remaining first-run prime time programs (excluding sports) airing Saturdays on the major U.S. broadcast television networks, along with Univision's Sabado Gigante. The program sometimes airs two-hour episodes or two episodes in a row on Saturday night depending on the subject involved or to counterprogram other networks.

Reruns of the series are regularly seen on the daytime and weekend schedules of Investigation Discovery, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and TLC with varying titles based on subject matter like 48 Hours Hard Evidence, 48 Hours Investigates, 48 Hours on OWN, or 48 Hours on ID.


Original format[edit]

The show was created by former CBS News President Howard Stringer. It drew its name, inspiration and original format from the September 1986 CBS News documentary entitled 48 Hours on Crack Street, about the drug crisis plaguing a number of U.S. neighborhoods. Like the original documentary, the series originally focused on showing events occurring within a 48-hour span of time – hence the name. This format was eventually phased out by the early 1990s. One of the contributors to that program, CBS News Correspondent Harold Dow, had been a member of the 48 Hours air staff since its premiere. Dan Rather, at the time also hosting the CBS Evening News, was the primary host of 48 Hours for its first fourteen years on air.

In 1997, CBS aired a special episode of 48 Hours titled Property of 48 Hours, which focused on some of the stories over the past nine years.

Current format[edit]

In the mid-2000s, the program transitioned into its current format, originally known as 48 Hours Mystery although it has since reverted to its original title, which mainly presents "true crime" documentaries.[2]

In 2009 the program featured interviews with Jodi Arias concerning the murder of Travis Alexander, her former boyfriend. These recordings were later used as evidence in court to convict Arias, the first time the program's interviews had ever been used in a death penalty trial.[3]


48 Hours Investigates/Mystery[edit]

The program was revamped in 2002 when Lesley Stahl took over hosting duties from Dan Rather, and its name was changed to 48 Hours Investigates. The name was changed again to 48 Hours Mystery in 2004, and with its single-topic format, it does not use a single host but is narrated by the reporter assigned to the story. The current format of the documentary primarily deals with real life mysteries and crime stories, again with just one mystery per episode, such as the murder of Brian Stidham,[4] owing to its single topic per show heritage.

The program is not confined to reporting mysteries; CBS often uses the 48 Hours title or timeslot to present special reports on events, such as a 2006 report on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, or coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007. However, the relationship between these special programs and the rest of the series is essentially limited to the program's title. The series also did a special report on the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

At the start of the 2011-12 television season, the program began broadcasting in high definition, making it the last American broadcast primetime news magazine to convert to the format.

48 Hours: Live To Tell[edit]

48 Hours: Live To Tell uses a different format from the earlier versions of the series. There is no narrator, instead the stories are recounted entirely by the victims and people who are friends of the victims of crimes; some episodes also focus on other life-threatening situations but are recounted in the same manner.

Awards and nominations[edit]

The program has received over 20 Emmy awards, two Peabody Awards, one in 2000 for "Heroes Under Fire"[5] and one for "Abortion Battle" and "On Runaway Street,"[6] and an Ohio State Award.


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Davis Rules
48 Hours (TV series)
Super Bowl lead-out program
60 Minutes
Succeeded by
Homicide: Life on the Street