live


Written By: Ehsan Jahandarpour

Live television refers to a television production broadcast in real-time, as events happen, in the present. From the early days of television until about 1958, live television was used heavily, except for filmed shows such as I Love Lucy and Gunsmoke. Although videotape was invented in 1957, its initial high cost ($300 per one hour reel or $2,521 in 2014 dollars) meant it was only very gradually adopted. Some genres, such as soap operas, did not completely abandon live broadcasts until the mid-1970s. Today, television networks provide most live television mostly for morning shows with television programs such as: Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, This Morning, etc. broadcast live in the UK, Sunrise live in Australia, Canada AM live in Canada, and Today, Good Morning America & CBS This Morning in the US airing live only in the Eastern Time Zone. (the only exception being CBS This Morning – Saturday which airs live in the Eastern & Central time zones) Spanish language morning shows (such as Despierta America & Un Nuevo Día), unlike their English speaking counterparts, air live in the Eastern, Central, & Mountain time zones. (tape delayed in the Pacific time zone) A few daytime talk shows in the USA broadcast live before a studio audience in select time zones. Shows such as Live! with Kelly and Michael & the Wendy Williams Show air live in the Eastern time zone only, while shows such as ABC’s The View air live in the Eastern & Central time zones. The Talk on CBS airs live in the Eastern & Central time zones Monday through Thursday. (a separate program is taped on Thursday afternoon for airing on Friday) Affiliates in the remaining time zones air these programs on a tape delay. Most other daytime talk shows (as well as late night programs) are taped before a live studio audience earlier in the day, and edited for later broadcast. Talent shows (such as Dancing With The Stars) air live in the Eastern & Central time zones, while ABC’s Rising Star airs live in the Eastern, Central, & Mountain time zones. Other talent shows (such as American Idol, The Voice, & America’s Got Talent) will pre-record audition rounds and broadcast the live rounds in the Eastern & Central time zones where viewers have the opportunity to vote for their favorite contestants. Most local television station newscasts are broadcast live in the U.S. as they are an essential medium for providing up-to-the-minute weather forecasts and breaking news stories. Broadcast television networks in the USA typically air their evening newscasts live in the Eastern & Central time zones. (a separate “Western Edition” is broadcast live to viewers in the Pacific Time Zone.) When a major national breaking news event occurs, broadcast television networks will break into regularly scheduled programming and will televise a live “special report” in all time zones. Local television stations break into regularly scheduled programming in the event of severe weather warnings or major local breaking news stories that occur within their viewing area. Cable news outlets (such as CNN & Fox News Channel) air continuous live programming during the day, and air rebroadcasts of earlier live shows during the late night hours, except in cases where breaking news occurs. In general, a live television program was more common for broadcasting content produced specifically for commercial television in the early years of the medium, before technologies such as video tape appeared. As video tape recorders (VTR) became more prevalent, many entertainment programs were recorded and edited before broadcasting rather than being shown live. Entertainment events such as sports television and The Academy Awards continue to be generally broadcast live. Most award shows in the USA typically air live in the Eastern & Central time zones. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade on NBC airs live only in the Eastern Time Zone. CBS airs the Thanksgiving Parade live in the Eastern, Central, & Mountain time zones. (taped delayed in the remaining time zones) The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade broadcasts live from Chicago, IL in all USA time zones on WGN America. Other events that air live nationally in all USA time zones include Presidential and Congressional election coverage, Presidential Inaugurations, the State of the Union Address, Presidential news conferences, Presidential Addresses to the Nation, the Tournament of Roses Parade, and funerals of major national or international public & religious figures. (i.e. former presidents or a Pope) Local television stations air live local election coverage & special events. (such as large scale parades, big city marathons, funerals of major local public & religious figures, inauguration ceremonies of big city mayors and governors, installation masses of cardinals or bishops in a major Catholic archdiocese, and pep rallies for a major sports team who has won a title game in events such as the NBA Finals, Super Bowl, World Series, or the NCAA) In the UK, events such as the State Opening of Parliament are broadcast live. A more recent development by cable outlets (such as CNN & Fox News Channel) is to incorporate the word LIVE in their network logo (also known as a digital on-screen graphic) when those networks broadcast live content. Some (but not all) sports cable networks will opt to insert the word LIVE somewhere on the corner of the screen. With the exception of special reports, broadcast television networks typically never display such a graphic during its live programming. (although NBC did display the word LIVE next to their logo during its Olympic coverage when live content was being broadcast, a practice that is being continued by its sister station: NBCSN) Local television station newscasts display time and temperature during their broadcasts, and only display the word LIVE when they air a news report or a live shot on location. Some networks have begun to insert (in addition to the word LIVE) the local time of where that news report is originating from, particularly when that report is airing live via satellite from overseas.