If you’re still keeping up with The Big Bang Theory, which is currently midway through its ninth season on CBS, then you probably noticed something different about the most recent episode, “The Sales Call Sublimation.” As Reddit user specialkkurtis pointed out on the r/television forum, the episode was only 18 minutes and 34 seconds in length. Being that TBBT sits in a coveted half-hour slot on Thursday nights, this means that viewers were treated to a whopping 11 minutes and 26 seconds of commercials.
“I’m used to half hour comedies actually being 21/22 minutes long, but under 19 minutes seems kind of ridiculous,” wrote specialkkurtis. “I don’t remember any other such shows having such short episodes, but I have no way to back that up.”
Sure enough, a brief review of TBBT‘s official website reveals that “The Sales Call Sublimation” was in fact 18 minutes and 34 seconds in length. specialkkurtis wasn’t wrong in his personal accounting of the episode’s startlingly brief runtime.
According to Reddit user bravesgeek, a six-minute commercial break was put in the middle of the episode. Another commenter noted that TBBT‘s episodes have been ranging as low as 18 minutes in length since the second season.
Internet commentary, arguments about whether or not TV executives really know what audiences want, and one user’s realization that the show-to-commercial ratio is nearly 1:1 aside — Reddit user Silverlight42 submitted the best response to the initial post.
I’m watching an episode of M.A.S.H. right now and its length is 25:37, for some sort of old-timey comparison.
A 25-minute episode of M.A.S.H. versus an 18-minute episode of TBBT. That’s roughly seven minutes of Taco Bell’s “Clementine” ads that viewers weren’t getting during the 1970s. What a golden age of television we live in.