Daytime television in the United States

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Daytime television is the general term for television shows produced for airing during the daytime hours on weekdays. The hours and days for daytime television in the United States usually run from 6:00am to 8:00pm ET, Monday through Friday; although it may vary depending on time zone/region, networks, and/or local stations. This article is only about American daytime television; for information about international daytime television, see Daytime television.

Types of daytime programming[edit]

There are several different genres or formats of daytime programming that are produced. Most of these shows can be produced on a low budget, as these shows have to be able to make at least five new episodes per week (sometimes more) for most of the year. Most daytime shows are syndicated, meaning local stations buy the rights to air them. Commercials aired during daytime programming mostly advertise food & drink, household goods and feminine products geared toward housewives and stay-at-home moms, who of course make up the largest portion of the daytime viewing audience.

Court shows[edit]

There are currently many different court shows produced in United States daytime television. Most of these shows usually deal with one, sometimes two small-claims cases per episode. Other shows deal with family law or reenactments of more serious cases. The cases are typically a form of binding arbitration between two litigating parties who agree to drop their conventional lawsuit to appear on television; they are not scripted, the participants are not actors, and decisions are handed down by real judges or attorneys. All of the following court shows are syndicated. Court shows usually occupy the morning and late-afternoon time slots.

Current American daytime court shows[edit]

Show Presiding Judge(s)
Judge Mathis Greg Mathis
Divorce Court Lynn Toler
Judge Judy Judith Sheindlin
The People's Court Marilyn Milian
America's Court with Judge Ross Kevin A. Ross
Supreme Justice with Judge Karen Karen Mills-Francis
Justice for All with Judge Cristina Pérez Cristina Pérez
Paternity Court Lauren Lake
Hot Bench Patricia DiMango, Tanya Acker and Michael Corriero
Couples Court[1] Keith and Dana Cutler

Daytime serials/soap operas[edit]

A staple of daytime television since the 1950s, serials continue to be among the most popular programs among daytime audiences. They are dramatic serials that tell ongoing stories of the day-to-day lives of large casts of characters, each still having its own identity. The term "soap opera" is somewhat of a misnomer, dating to the early days of radio and television when purveyors of detergents and soaps such as Procter & Gamble, Colgate Palmolive and Lever Bros. generally sponsored, financed and produced these shows individually. Soap operas usually occupy the afternoon time slots in daytime programming.

Current American daytime serials[edit]

Retired American daytime serials[edit]

Game shows[edit]

Game shows, another long-time mainstay of daytime television, involve real people playing a game, or a series of games, as contestants like the title suggests, with the ultimate goal of winning a prize (usually a large amount of money or an expensive luxury item, such as a new car or a trip).

The 1960s through the 1980s could be considered the golden age of game shows, as all three of the major broadcast networks carried several game shows during their daytime lineups, usually occupying the mid/late-morning and late-afternoon time slots. ABC Daytime ended their block in 1985 (with occasional stand-alone game shows such as Bargain Hunters in 1987 and Match Game in 1990 airing in the years that followed) followed by NBC Daytime in 1991 (with a brief revival in 1993) and CBS Daytime in 1993. CBS still carries two daytime game shows, the long-running The Price Is Right and a revival of Let's Make a Deal. CBS currently allows both daytime game shows to be arranged as a two-hour block by affiliates (10AM ET) if preferred instead of bookending the schedule (11 AM and 3 PM ET).

Of the current daytime game shows, The Price Is Right began as part of CBS's daytime game show block in 1972 and is the only show to have aired continuously on daytime network television since the end of that era. Family Feud, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune (the latter two of which usually airs during the pre-prime time hour, but are also occasionally scheduled in the daytime, especially in the Central Time Zone and in markets where Jeopardy! airs two episodes a day) have all transitioned from network daytime shows to syndication, while Millionaire is a daytime spinoff of a network prime time program. Both current CBS Daytime game shows began as 30-minute game shows that transitioned into one-hour formats (Price in 1975 and Deal in 2009).

Current daytime game shows[edit]

Network television

  • Let's Make a Deal (CBS; 2009–, aired in various forms on NBC, ABC and syndication from 1963 to 1981, 1990, and 2003)
  • The Price Is Right (CBS; 1972–, aired on NBC from 1956 to 1963 and ABC from 1963 to 1965)


Classic reruns of retired game shows from the 1970s and 1980s (such as Password, etc.) are currently airing on Game Show Network in its daytime slot, and 24/7 on the digital multicast network Buzzr. In addition, Buzzr launched "daytime buzz" featuring classic game shows. Also, Pyramid, Match Game, Celebrity Family Feud and To Tell The Truth are airing as summer primetime shows on ABC.

Morning news programs[edit]

These network news programs provide more in-depth coverage of news and current events that are broadcast on the evening news. These programs may also cover life-improvement tips; such as healthy dieting and exercise, do-it-yourself household projects, and other advice and tips to enhance one's well-being. They may also include celebrity guests and concert performances by popular music acts. Most morning shows follow a particular format with hard news and interviews with newsmakers and correspondents in the first half-hour, true crime stories in the second, and lighter fare such as celebrity and lifestyle stories in the second hour (with the concert, if any, closing out the show in the last half-hour). Morning news programs usually occupy the 6:00am to 8:00am or the 7:00 am to 9:00 am time slot.

Current morning news programs[edit]

Some local stations may also air their own versions of morning news programs along with their network-affiliated morning news program.

Tabloid news[edit]

Half-hour newsmagazines generally focus on sensationalist tabloid-style news and entertainment coverage. Originally, the tone was light in nature, focusing on notable events involving celebrities. But market forces and ratings concerns eventually forced programs into a tabloid format, covering such topics as celebrity scandals and major crime events that make national headlines. These programs usually air during the late-afternoon or pre-prime time hours.

Current tabloid television news shows[edit]

Retired newsmagazine shows include PM Magazine (from the 1980s); and Hard Copy and A Current Affair (both from the 1990s); and The Insider (from the 2000s). A Current Affair attempted a comeback in the mid-2000s, but was later canceled due to low ratings.

Sunday morning news programs[edit]

During the week, daytime television is generally devoid of or lacking news programming. However, on Sundays, most networks devote at least part of their Sunday morning schedule to serious news programming, as the viewers who would normally be at work during the daytime on weekdays are generally at home on Sunday mornings.

Current Sunday morning news and public affairs programs[edit]

Talk shows[edit]

In the early years NBC and ABC added daytime talk shows during late mornings and afternoon hours. In the years that followed with daytime soap operas fill the daytime slots, talk shows become limited and some of which has since moved into syndication during the 1970s. In recent years, CBS added talk shows for the first time as a replacement for cancelled soap operas, most notably As the World Turns. This makes ABC the only network to air 2 talk shows having air continuously since the 1950s. Talk shows typically last one hour, and are more often than not hosted by celebrities. Talk shows deal with a variety of topics, like educational or self-help related subjects; to variety shows featuring celebrity interviews, comedic monologues, and stage performances; to tabloid talk shows. Talk shows usually occupy the morning and late-afternoon hours. Syndicated talk shows on the other hand have made a comeback in recent years to 12 talk shows, however it might will decrease to 11 if any new talk shows will be added.

Current American daytime talk shows[edit]

Network television


Notable past daytime talk shows[edit]

Donahue (1970 to 1996) was one of the first major hit daytime talk shows and dominated the format up until the mid-1980s, when it was surpassed by The Oprah Winfrey Show (1986 to 2011), which in turn was the highest-rated talk show on television for most of its run, except for a period in the late 1990s when The Jerry Springer Show (1991 to 2018) surpassed Oprah.

A number of daytime talk shows that followed a format more closely resembling the late-night talk show have aired over the course of history, including The Mike Douglas Show and Dinah! in the 1970s, and shows such as The Rosie O'Donnell Show, The Howie Mandel Show and The Martin Short Show in the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade).

Off-network syndicated programming[edit]

Syndication is the practice of selling rights to the presentation of television programs, especially to more than one customer such as a television station, a cable channel, or a programming service such as a national broadcasting system. The syndication of television programs is a fundamental financial component of television industries. Long a crucial factor in the economics of the U.S. industry, syndication is now a worldwide activity involving the sales of programming produced in many countries. While most of the series currently in syndication are either still in production or have only recently ended their runs, the most popular series can command syndication runs lasting decades beyond the end of their production (the most extreme example being I Love Lucy, which remains in syndication as of 2012 despite having ended its run in 1957; other examples of series still popular in syndication after over a decade out of production include Seinfeld, Cheers, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, M*A*S*H, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three's Company, The Wonder Years, among many others). Off-network syndicated series also normally occupy the mid/late morning and late-afternoon time slots.

Networks have also been known to rerun scripted programming in daytime, though much less so with the proliferation of syndication, cable television and direct broadcast satellites in the 1980s and 1990s. The last time a network is known to have done this is when CBS aired reruns of Designing Women from 1991-1992. However, it wasn't until 14 years later in 2006 When Daytime WB aired reruns of Reba (TV series) along with previous shows such as "ER" (TV series) since 2009 no major TV networks has aired any reruns on the daytime slot.

Note that the series listed below are not necessarily restricted to daytime and can air in any open time slot.

Off-network series currently in syndication[edit]

Daytime programming breakdown[edit]

See also Dayparting

The following table shows the general breakdown of the American daytime television schedule; although, as mentioned above, it may vary depending on time zone/region, networks, and/or local stations.

Time Range (ET) Time Slot Type(s) of daytime programming normally aired
6:00am - 9:00am Early morning Local and network morning news programs
9:00am - 11:00am Mid-morning Game shows, talk shows, court shows, newsmagazines, syndicated programming
11:00am - 12:00 noon Late-morning Game shows, talk shows, court shows, newsmagazines, syndicated programming
12:00 noon - 2:00pm Early afternoon Local news (in the 12:00 noon hour), soap operas
2:00pm - 4:00pm Mid-afternoon Soap operas, talk shows, court shows
4:00pm - 6:00pm Late-afternoon Local news (especially in the 5:00 hour), Game shows, talk shows, court shows, newsmagazines, syndicated programming
6:00pm - 7:00pm Early evening Local and network news
7:00pm - 8:00pm Access hour Game shows, newsmagazines, off-network sitcoms

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]