Years ago I noticed Charlie Brown talking way too fast during their traditional Christmas Special. The special was produced at 26 minutes long at a time when they forced a lot less commercials on us. But most modern American TV channels want to run about 10 minutes of commercials every half hour, leaving only 20 minutes for the show. So without cutting too much of the opening & closing credits, & other bits of the show (which they also do), they speed it up to make room for more commercials.
Don't bother looking for the pitch of the voices to get higher though. Modern Technology can speed it up without changing or raising the pitch. I even had the technology on my computers since 1998.
Now they've taken greed a step further. It's not just very old shows they speed up to make room for more ads on TV. The local affiliates, cable, & satellite also want a few more seconds or minutes for their commercials too. So they chop & speed up new shows & movies too.
A few weeks ago I was watching a broadcast of the movie, "Network" on PBS. Disappointed with the picture quality, I pulled out my copy of the movie for a screen-shot comparison for a site. I synced up my copy so that the same thing was playing as what was being broadcast. But after every 5 minutes the broadcasted version was almost a minute fast out of sync with my copy. I'd sync it up again & in about 5 minutes the PBS version would be almost a minute ahead of my copy again.
Even PBS speeds up their media!
So the next time you suspect that they're talking a bit too fast on the Big Bang Theory, they are. Bits of it may have been chopped off too.
Networks have been looking for ways to pack in more and more commercials. Networks are trying to increase the number of commercials you watch per hour, resorted to speeding up shows, movies, and reruns in an effort to recapture the revenue from tanking ratings.
TBS sped up the Wizard of Oz during its airing last November. TBS, TNT, and TV Land have also sped up shows including Seinfeld and Friends.
Speeding up shows isn't the only way networks are trying to fit in ad time. On TNT, reruns of Law and Order have truncated opening credits—once a minute and 45 seconds long, the introduction is now just 24 seconds. “It feels wrong,” Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman told the Journal about the show's “squashed” opening and closing credits. “It is not how it was shot, written, or imagined. It wasn’t meant to be that way, so don’t make it that way."
In 2014, A&E averaged three more minutes of commercial time per hour than it did in 2013. The History Channel averaged two more minutes year-over-year. The changes come as cable TV is struggling to maintain viewership and fighting for valuable advertising dollars. Still, packing more commercials in per hour may be self-serving to the detriment of networks' relationships with both viewers and advertisers. Commercial clutter not only makes it more difficult for advertisers to get their message across to viewers, it also turns viewers away from the cable TV experience.
“It is a way to keep the revenue from going down as much as the ratings,” a top executive at one major cable programmer said. “The only way we can do it is to double down and stretch the unit load a little more.”