Daytime television is a television genre which features television programming traditionally produced and scheduled to air between the hours of 9 a.m. (at the end of morning show-type programming) and 5 p.m. (when local news and the early fringe of primetime begins). It can also be defined as television programs that are broadcast before the watershed period, and therefore is subject to censorship.
The term “daytime television” typically is used to describe the programming that airs during weekdays; weekend programming is often much different and more varied in nature.
Target audience and demographics
The type of programming is designed primarily to be viewed by audiences who choose to seek a career in homemaking rather than employment, such as housewives and stay-at-home dads, and secondarily those viewers who might not usually carry a job, such as the unemployed, senior citizens and in some select cases, college students. For all intents and purposes, however, the traditional target audience of daytime television programs has been demographically 18-49 women, as the large majority of daytime viewership has historically consisted of housewives, and as such daytime programming is hosted by women and usually pertains to women's issues and other subjects such as child care, minor health care and other issues within a home setting. There are also programs that are designed for young children, such as preschoolers. PBS, Nick Jr., Disney Junior and the Hub Network air that programming in the timeslot in the United States, with CBBC and CBeebies, CITV, and Milkshake! the major providers of daytime pre-school programming in the United Kingdom.
Because of demographic shifts and the decreasing number of people at home during the daytime, the daytime television audience has shrunk rapidly in recent years, and that which remains is largely over the age of 55 and thus considered undesirable for most advertisers.
In the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia, talk show programming in this vein is a significant part of this timeslot, and shows that have coverage in most of these regions include or have included The Oprah Winfrey Show, The View, The Jerry Springer Show, The Jeremy Kyle Show, This Morning and Dr. Phil. Another popular audience in this time frame is the college student; game shows such as the original Jeopardy! (1964–75) and, since the 1990s, The Price Is Right have targeted this audience. Soap operas such as General Hospital and The Young and the Restless continue to be popular (although less so than in decades past) in the U.S., UK and Canada.
Meanwhile, news networks such as CNN, Fox News Channel, CTV Newsnet, CBC News Network, and Sky News usually program rolling news coverage where a set schedule of stories is followed, but is broken at any time for breaking news stories, while business networks such as CNBC, Fox Business Network and Bloomberg Television explicitly program to draw in viewers who might only watch for minutes at a time in settings such as health clubs, bars, restaurants, banks, and other financial institutions and the floors of stock exchanges, closed captioning is usually turned on in these settings. ESPN follows a similar format by running its flagship newscast, SportsCenter, throughout the daytime hours. In other public settings such as a university or airport, specific programming targeting a certain institution, such as the CNN Airport Network and MTVU is aired with rolling programming on public television sets designed to get attention for only a short period of time.
Children's television networks usually use the 9 a.m –3 p.m. timeslot before children of school age return home to air preschool programming for young viewers, while PBS member stations might either carry exclusively children's programming, or instructional programming to be taped for later use, programs which can be watched as part of acquiring college credit, or for viewers to eventually acquire their General Equivalency Diploma.
Sports television networks in the Americas can take advantage of the time differences with Europe to fill their daytime slots with European sports such as soccer, cricket and rugby. The same pattern happens in Europe with Asia-Pacific sports. On weekends, daytime television is often devoted to domestic competitions. In the United States, American football, in particular, is a staple of Saturday and Sunday afternoons during the autumn months. In Latin America, soccer typically airs on weekend afternoons, therefore European sports air in the morning and noon.
Other basic cable networks generally rerun episodes of their current prime time programming, often in marathon format; stations that devote much of their programming to acquired reruns may also follow this strategy, or use the daytime slot to burn off a contract for a less popular program (in this sense, daytime can be seen, much like the overnight, to be a graveyard slot that is useless to program with high-budget content).
Local television stations with news departments typically air a half-hour newscast, simplified with short pre-recorded stories, no live remotes or sports and a reduced on-air staff (typically only one news anchor and one weatherperson in most mid-sized markets, with both usually pulling double duty from the station's morning show or, in the case of weather, from the 5:00 newscast if that person is not the late local news meteorologist).
10:00 AM – 7:00 PM