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50 longest running TV shows

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Piotr Swat // Shutterstock

50 longest running TV shows

Broadcast television has experienced exponential growth in its nearly century of existence. From the first flicker of black-and-white programming to a modern, on-demand smorgasbord of color cable channels, television has become an integral part of American life. And while some programs may come and go in the blink of an eye, others have endured for decades.

Stacker has compiled a list of the longest-running United States television series, ordered by the number of years each show has been on the air. This list includes only first-run series originating in North America and available throughout the United States via national broadcast networks, cable networks, or syndication. Series continuations—with name changes and/or changes in network—are noted, but series' revivals are treated as separate from the originals—such as "The People's Court" and "Jeopardy!" Series broadcast within the U.S. but produced in other countries, like "Coronation Street," which has been running for more than 50 years, and "Doctor Who" are not included.

Read on for the 50 longest-running TV series.

ALSO: Most popular TV shows the year you were born

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Warner Bros. Television // IMDb

#50. The Bugs Bunny Show

Total length: 40 years
Networks: ABC, CBS
First broadcast: Oct. 11, 1960
Final broadcast: Sept. 2, 2000

Bugs Bunny is not only the most well-known of the “Looney Tunes” characters, but is perhaps one of the most celebrated cartoon characters of all time. His stardom was enough to carry an anthology variety show, running as a hallmark of Saturday morning cartoons, for nearly 40 years straight. “The Bugs Bunny Show” is the longest-running cartoon show on broadcast television.

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James Mayhew // YouTube

#49. NASCAR on CBS

Total length: 40 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: Feb. 12, 1960
Final broadcast: July 15, 2000

NASCAR ruled the airwaves at CBS for nearly 40 years. The network aired the first televised NASCAR event in 1960, and viewers tuned in for decades to watch coverage of the popular Winston Cup, Craftsman Truck, and Busch Series races. NASCAR cashed in on its massive popularity in the late '90s by negotiating lucrative broadcasting deals with a number of channels, and CBS's monopoly on the sport ended in 2000.

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Fremantle Media International // IMDb

#48. Romper Room/Romper Room & Friends

Total length: 41 years
Network: Syndicated
First broadcast: Feb. 9, 1953
Final broadcast: Sept. 1, 1994

“Romper Room” was one of the earliest programs in the growing genre of children's television, featuring a hostess who led a group of children in several games and activities to teach them about morals, manners, and etiquette. While “Romper Room” was broadcast nationally, there were also several local and international versions of the show.

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Creative Horizons // ABC // IMDb

#47. All My Children

Total length: 41 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: Jan. 5, 1970
Final broadcast: Sept. 23, 2011

Writer Agnes Nixon developed “All My Children” in part as a platform to discuss social issues. The soap opera tackled taboos that other shows were adverse to covering, including the Vietnam War in the 1970s and homosexuality in the 1980s. Production company Prospect Park attempted but failed to revive the show for online distribution after its 2011 cancellation.

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Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts // IMDb

#46. Live From Lincoln Center

Total length: 43 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: Jan. 30, 1976
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Since 1976, PBS has aired performances from the world of opera, ballet, and classical music from New York City's renowned Lincoln Center. Currently hosted by actress and singer Audra McDonald, “Live from Lincoln Center” has won 17 Emmy Awards and countless more nominations. The program, made possible by grants from several trusts and foundations, remains one of PBS' most beloved cornerstones.

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KENW PBS // YouTube

#45. Creative Living With Sheryl Borden

Total length: 43 years
Network: Syndicated
First broadcast: 1976
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Sheryl Borden hosts this local magazine-formatted crafts show, giving tips about cooking, sewing, and other crafts. Airing since 1976, “Creative Living” is carried in more than 118 PBS stations throughout most of the United States and parts of Canada.

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American Broadcasting Company // IMDb

#44. Good Morning America

Total length: 44 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: Nov. 3, 1975
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Good Morning America” (known colloquially as “GMA”) is a breakfast television news show. Hosting the program has often been a stepping stone to more prestigious network news positions, and past anchors like Charlie Gibson and Diane Sawyer both eventually anchored “World News” on primetime. Today the show is led by Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Michael Strahan.

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DoD photo by Sgt. Aaron Hostutler // U.S. Marine Corps.

#43. PBS NewsHour

Total length: 44 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: Oct. 20, 1975
Final broadcast: Ongoing

First broadcast in 1975 and currently hosted by Judy Woodruff, “PBS Newshour” is the network's flagship daily news program. Jim Lehrer, who sat in the chair from 1976 until 2011, has been the program's longest-serving anchor. The prestige of the program was recognized when Lehrer was chosen to moderate multiple presidential debates. Gwen Ifill is among the program's most celebrated hosts.

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The Gardening Channel // YouTube

#42. The Victory Garden

Total length: 44 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: April 16, 1975
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Beginning as “Crockett's Victory Garden” under the hosting of James Underwood Crockett, each episode on this show focuses on general garden care. After Crockett passed away in 1979, the show broadened to cover topics like planting, potting, pruning, and pest control, even featuring guests and travel segments. The program is currently on the air under the title “The Victory Garden's Edible Feast.”

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Scott Newton // KLRU // IMBd

#41. Austin City Limits

Total length: 44 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: Jan. 2, 1975
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Austin City Limits” is a PBS stalwart featuring performances by Austin, Texas, acts. The show regularly presents music genres such as Texas blues, rock 'n' roll, and country, but has also broadened its scope to include other national and international types of music as well. The show made the claim of being the longest-running music television series in American history.

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NBC Studios // IMDb

#40. Saturday Night Live

Total length: 44 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Oct. 11, 1975
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Producer Lorne Michaels changed the sketch comedy and television landscape with “Saturday Night Live,” or “SNL.” Original cast members included Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd with episodes featuring celebrity hosts and musical performances, live and pre-taped sketches, the satirical “Weekend Update” news segment, and famous political impressions, such as Will Ferrell as George W. Bush and Tina Fey as Sarah Palin. Current cast members include Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson, and it holds the record as America's longest-running sketch comedy and variety show.

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ABC7 WJLA // YouTube

#39. Inside Washington

Total length: 43 years
Network: Syndicated
First broadcast: 1976
Final broadcast: Ongoing

This political roundtable show got its start as “Agronsky & Co.,” hosted by journalist Martin Agronsky. After Agronsky's retirement, journalist Gordon Peterson renamed the program “Inside Washington,” with production moving to local D.C. station WJLA. The program was an early pioneer in the “talking head” format of panel discussions.

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Buena Vista Television // IMDb

#38. One Life to Live

Total length: 44 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: July 15, 1968
Final broadcast: Jan. 13, 2012

Agnes Nixon, the force behind “All My Children,” created “One Life to Life” in an attempt to steer daytime television programming away from its predominantly white, upper-class nature by instead depicting ethnically and socioeconomically diverse characters. Ending in 2012, an attempt to revive “One Life to Life” was short-lived online.

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WGBH // IMDB

#37. NOVA

Total length: 45 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: March 3, 1974
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“NOVA” is the most-watched primetime science program in the United States. Produced by Boston-based WGBH, the weekly program features in-depth reports on scientific and nature topics, as well as interviews with prominent scientists and researchers. “NOVA” is the recipient of numerous Peabody and Emmy awards.

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IMDb

#36. Wide World of Sports

Total length: 45 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: April 29, 1961
Final broadcast: Aug. 2006

ABC's “Wide World of Sports” was a popular weekly sports magazine. Episodes began with a musical fanfare and an iconic voice-over promising to show viewers “the thrill of victory” and “the agony of defeat.” As the television market grew and diversified in the late '90s, “Wide World of Sports” couldn't compete and was canceled in 1998.

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IamTheShermanator // YouTube

#35. NASCAR on ABC

Total length: 46 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: Feb. 26, 1961
Final broadcast: Oct. 11, 2014

Initially, NASCAR's business and broadcast involvement with ABC began with presentations through the “Wide World of Sports” program. Beginning in 1981 ESPN would also begin airing NASCAR races. The deal between ESPN and NASCAR ended in 2014, ending a 50-year run across ABC and ESPN.

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Sony Pictures Television // CBS // IMDb

#34. The Young and the Restless

Total length: 46 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: March 26, 1973
Final broadcast: Ongoing

A rivalry between the wealthy Brooks family and the working class Foster family is the centerpiece of the Daytime Emmy-winning “The Young and the Restless.” While the cast frequently changes, the characters Jill Abbott and Katherine Chancellor remain constant. The program began as a half-hour soap opera before expanding to a full hour in 1980, and also crossed over with fellow soap opera “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

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PBS // IMDb

#33. Great Performances

Total length: 47 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: Nov. 4, 1972
Final broadcast: Ongoing

As the title implies, “Great Performances” is a platform on PBS to showcase theatrical and artistic productions including plays, musicals, ballets, operas, and even documentaries. Julie Andrews, Whoopi Goldberg, and Walter Cronkite frequently acted as guest hosts for the program. A spin-off called “Great Performances: Dance in America” focused exclusively on dance performances.

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Price Productions // IMDb

#32. The Price Is Right

Total length: 47 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: Sept. 4, 1972
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Whether they view the show or not, Americans are all familiar with “The Price Is Right's” famous catchphrase “Come on down!” The game show is the longest-running on television and features contestants attempting to guess the price of certain items. Bob Barker hosted the show from its debut until 2007, when he was succeeded by Drew Carey.

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Nick Briggs // Carnival Film & Television // IMDb

#31. Masterpiece Theatre

Total length: 48 years
Network: PBS
First broadcast: Jan. 10, 1971
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Masterpiece Theatre” (currently known as “Masterpiece”) presents numerous British dramas to American audiences. Popular programs that have made it stateside through “Masterpiece” include “Sherlock” and “Downton Abbey.” Several performers such as Gillian Anderson, Laura Linney, Alan Cumming, and David Tennant have acted as hosts for “Masterpiece,” but the show now operates without one.

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American Broadcasting Company (ABC) Sports // IMDb

#30. Monday Night Football

Total length: 48 years
Network: ABC, ESPN
First broadcast: Sept. 21, 1970
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Monday Night Football” has aired NFL games across ABC and ESPN, for nearly 50 years. It is one of the longest-running primetime programs on broadcast television. “MNF” often utilizes rotating hosts and guests to provide commentary and entertainment.

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Getty Images // IMDb

#29. Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon

Total length: 48 years
Networks: Syndicated, ABC
First broadcast: Sept. 4, 1966
Final broadcast: Aug. 31, 2014

The “Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon” raised money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association annually from 1966 to 2014 and was hosted by its namesake, the beloved entertainer Jerry Lewis. The telethon aired every Labor Day weekend, and in total raised more than $2.45 billion. The program eventually aired as the “MDA Show of Strength,” but was canceled in favor of more modern and viral methods of fundraising.

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Hanna-Barbera Productions // IMDb

#28. Scooby-Doo

Total length: 49 years
Networks: CBS, ABC, The WB, The CW, Cartoon Network, Boomerang
First broadcast: Sept. 13, 1969
Final broadcast: Ongoing

The “Scooby-Doo” franchise encapsulates several animated television shows and spin-off movies, with the most famous iteration being titled “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?” As most popular culture aficionados should know, the premise involves a group of teenagers and their quirky dog driving around in the Mystery Machine Van and solving various mysteries. “I would've gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids!” yelled each villain of the week after their eventual defeat.

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U.S. National Archives

#27. NBC Nightly News

Total length: 49 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Aug. 3, 1970
Final broadcast: Ongoing

John Chancellor served as the first anchor for NBC's nightly news program before eventually being succeeded by the legendary Tom Brokaw. After Brokaw's retirement from the program, Brian Williams took over, only to resign after an embellishment scandal and suspension. Lester Holt now sits as the anchor, with the program still using a musical theme written by John Williams in 1985.

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Crystal Cathedral // Wikicommons

#26. Hour of Power

Total length: 44 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: February 1970
Final broadcast: Ongoing

First broadcast from the Crystal Cathedral in California, “Hour of Power” showcases Christian music performances and a number of guests sharing stories about their faith. “Hour of Power” was founded by televangelist Robert H. Schuller, though the program is now hosted by his grandson Bobby Schuller. The program currently airs from Shepherd's Grove.

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Children's Television Workshop (CTW) // IMDB

#25. Sesame Street

Total length: 50 years
Networks: NET, PBS, HBO
First broadcast: Nov. 10, 1969
Final broadcast: Ongoing

An essential part of many American childhoods, “Sesame Street” was created by the former Children's Television Workshop and uses puppets to communicate educational and often humorous lessons to children. Human characters are also present in “Sesame Street,” with celebrity guest stars often making appearances. Famous “Sesame Street” characters include Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, and Oscar the Grouch.

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CBS News Productions // IMDb

#24. 60 Minutes

Total length: 51 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: Sept. 24, 1968
Final broadcast: Ongoing

The ticking noise and graphic that accompanies every bumper in “60 Minutes” has stuck with the minds of viewers since the program's beginnings in 1968. A news magazine from CBS, “60 Minutes” centers on reporter-focused investigations covering topical issues in the country. With the rise of new media, “60 Minutes” segments have also been distributed through the internet and mobile applications.

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RBC Ministries // IMDb

#23. Day of Discovery

Total length: 51 years
Networks: Syndicated
First broadcast: May 5, 1968
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Day of Discovery” is a show imported from Canada and hosted by publisher and broadcaster Brent Hackett. Shot in documentary style, Hackett takes viewers through historical events while providing Christian and context.

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Roy Broussard // YouTube

#22. NFL Films Presents

Total length: 52 years
Networks: Syndicated, ESPN, NFL Network
First broadcast: Sept. 17, 1967
Final broadcast: Ongoing

NFL Films serves as a resource for archiving some of the most memorable moments in American football history. Through ESPN and the NFL Network, the company provides several documentaries and footage, with “NFL Films Presents” acting as an umbrella title for many programs that do not fit in with existing shows.

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WETA // IMDb

#21. Washington Week

Total length: 52 years
Networks: NET, PBS
First broadcast: Feb. 23, 1967
Final broadcast: Ongoing

The panel discussion program “Washington Week” first aired on the National Educational Television channel before coming under the banner of PBS. Initially titled “Washington Week in Review,” this program features a moderator and panelists tackling the political issues of the day in a civil fashion. Robert Costa of The Washington Post currently serves as the host of “Washington Week.”
 

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Pete Souza // Official White House Photo

#20. Sábado Gigante

Total length: 53 years
Network: Univision
First broadcast: Aug. 8, 1962
Final broadcast: Sept. 19, 2015

Directly imported from Chile, “Sábado Gigante” is brought to audiences in the United States through Univision. The weekly show provided a variety of entertainment segments, ranging from beauty pageants and comedy sketches to musical performances. “Sábado Gigante” is the longest-running imported television show in the United States.

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Sony Pictures Television // NBC // IMDb

#19. Days of Our Lives

Total length: 54 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Nov. 8, 1965
Final broadcast: Ongoing

American soap opera fans have been following the lives of the residents of Salem since 1965. One of the longest-running scripted programs in the world, “Days of Our Lives”—or “Days” as its viewers lovingly call it—features all the romance, plotting, and scheming soap opera lovers expect from the genre, but it also gained a reputation, particularly in its early years, for its almost subversive story lines, including story arcs featuring topics like interracial romance and infertility.

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Walt Disney Television // IMDb

#18. The Wonderful World of Disney

Total length: 54 years
Networks: ABC, NBC, CBS, Disney Channel
First broadcast: Oct. 27, 1954
Final broadcast: Dec. 24, 2008

“The Wonderful World of Disney” presented numerous Disney theatrical releases on network and cable television, and often hosted network premieres of popular films (including “Toy Story”). Upon its second run on ABC, the program began running film from other studios, such as the “Harry Potter” films. Despite the series' end, “The Wonderful World of Disney” title has returned infrequently for special presentations of films like “Frozen.”

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CBS via Getty Images // IMDb

#17. As the World Turns

Total length: 54 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: April 2, 1956
Final broadcast: Sept. 17, 2010

Created as a companion for “Guiding Light,” “As the World Turns” was meant to be a slow, contemplative, and character-focused story. The program featured a number of characters representing different legal and medical professions. It has the third-longest continuous run of any soap opera and was canceled in 2009 due to low ratings.

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Erik Hein // ABC // IMDb

#16. General Hospital

Total length: 56 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: April 1, 1963
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“General Hospital” has the distinction of being the longest-running dramatic series and soap opera that is still in production to this day. The series takes place in what used to be an unnamed town, now known as Port Charles. For most of the series' run, “General Hospital” has focused on the Quartermaine and Spencer families.
 

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Greg Palmer // YouTube

#15. Professional Bowlers Tour

Total length: 56 years
Networks: ABC, CBS, Fox Sports Net, ESPN
First broadcast: Jan. 27, 1962
Final broadcast: Ongoing

It may not have the name recognition of “Wide World of Sports,” but the “Professional Bowlers Tour” still had a long presence on the same ABC television network. Now on ESPN, the program airs matches from the Professional Bowlers Association.
 

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Procter & Gamble Productions (PGP) // IMDb

#14. Guiding Light

Total length: 57 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: June 30, 1952
Final broadcast: Sept. 18, 2009

Holding the record as the longest-running drama and daytime television show of all time, “Guiding Light” leaves a long legacy that began on radio in 1937. The program cycled through various writers, characters, and storylines through the many decades (Agnes Nixon, the creator of various other soap operas such as “All My Children,” is one notable name). The show reached its eventual end in 2009 due to declining ratings.

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EuclidC // Wikicommons

#13. It's Academic

Total length: 58 years
Networks: WRC-TV, WJZ-TV, WVIR-TV
First broadcast: Oct. 7, 1961
Final broadcast: Ongoing

While classified as a game show, “It's Academic” is based more around local academic competitions. This long-running quiz show is only broadcast in Baltimore, Charlottesville, and Washington D.C., and features quiz competitions for high school students around the country. The program has spun off in other U.S. cities and even internationally.

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Jean0987654321 // YouTube

#12. NFL on NBC

Total length: 58 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Oct. 22, 1939
Final broadcast: Ongoing

NBC's relationship with the NFL began in 1939, with televised broadcasts of football games leading to a rise in popularity for the NFL. NBC found themselves in heavy competition with rival network CBS over broadcasting rights for the league, with CBS gaining the upper hand in 1997. After renegotiations, NBC began airing NFL games and the occasional Super Bowl starting in 2006.

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CBS Sports // IMDB

#11. NFL on CBS

Total length: 59 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: Sept. 30, 1956
Final broadcast: Ongoing

CBS began airing NFL games in 1956, even prior to the AFL-NFL merger. Factors such as competition from the then-relatively new Fox network led to a period from 1994 to 1997 where CBS was left without football games, leaving the network scrambling for replacement programming.

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IMDb

#10. The Open Mind

Total length: 63 years
Network: Syndicated
First broadcast: May 1956
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“The Open Mind” is the longest-running public access program on television, with the goal of serving as a “thoughtful excursion into the world of ideas.” Created by Richard Heffner, the show has attempted to provide insights into politics, science, technology, and the arts. After Heffner's death in 2013, his grandson Alexander Heffner took over hosting duties.

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It Is Written // YouTube

#9. It Is Written

Total length: 63 years
Network: Syndicated
First broadcast: March 25, 1956
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“It Is Written” is the longest-running religious television program to broadcast in color. With the use of satellite uplink technology, this program is also broadcast internationally in more than 140 countries. In keeping with modern media trends, “It Is Written” also has a presence through video podcasts and mobile applications.

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CBS News Productions // IMDb

#8. Face the Nation

Total length: 65 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: Nov. 7, 1954
Final broadcast: Ongoing

One of several Sunday morning talk shows on network television, “Face the Nation” debuted on CBS as a response to NBC's “Meet the Press.” Both shows share a similar format, featuring interviews with political figures and panel discussions. The show, currently anchored by Margaret Brennan, started off as a half-hour program before expanding to a full hour in 2012 under longtime moderator Bob Schieffer.

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NBC Productions // IMDb

#7. The Tonight Show

Total length: 65 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Sept. 27, 1954
Final broadcast: Ongoing

This long-running late-night talk show was originally created as a companion to “The Today Show” by Sylvester Weaver, NBC's vice president. First hosted by Steve Allen and followed by Jack Paar, Johnny Carson's 30-year run is by far the most famous and influential run in late night television history. The show moved back from Burbank, Calif. to New York City when Jimmy Fallon, former host of “Late Night,” took over the show from Jay Leno.

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news podcast // YouTube

#6. ABC World News Tonight

Total length: 66 years
Network: ABC
First broadcast: October 1953
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“ABC World News Tonight” is currently anchored by David Muir, with the long-running program receiving various title changes through the years. Muir succeeds Diane Sawyer, who in turn succeeded Charles Gibson, both having formerly anchored ABC's “Good Morning America.”

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NBC News // IMDb

#5. Today

Total length: 67 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Jan. 14, 1952
Final broadcast: Ongoing

“Today,” or “The Today Show,” is the first show of its kind and the longest-running morning talk show. "Today" began as a two-hour program with news headlines, interviews, and occasional skits and gimmicks. In the present day, “Today” runs for four hours every weekday morning, currently hosted by Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker, and Carson Daly. Like many other NBC programs, “Today” airs live from 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.

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"Dial M for Murder" from "Hallmark Hall of Fame." // Wikicommons

#4. Hallmark Hall of Fame

Total length: 68 years
Networks: NBC, CBS, PBS, ABC, Hallmark Channel
First broadcast: Dec. 24, 1951
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Originally titled the “Hallmark Television Playhouse,” this long-running program had its start on the radio and adapted stories from the Reader's Digest. Productions featured on the program include the plays of Shakespeare and popular Broadway programs. Like many of the shows of its time and unlike those today, this program, which now airs intermittently, features its sponsor in the title.

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The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square // YouTube

#3. Music & the Spoken Word

Total length: 70 years
Networks: Syndicated
First broadcast: October 1949
Final broadcast: Ongoing

The longest-running non-news television program, “Music & the Spoken Word” focuses on religious music performances and spiritual messages and passages. This program is broadcast on both television and radio and features The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. The program received the honor of inclusion to the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2010.

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CBS News Productions // IMDb

#2. CBS Evening News

Total length: 71 years
Network: CBS
First broadcast: May 3, 1948
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Douglas Edwards served as the first anchor for “CBS Evening News,” the longest-running network newscast in American history. Walter Cronkite is perhaps the program's most famous news anchor. Currently, Jeff Glor hosts this nightly news program, with his predecessors including Scott Pelley, Katie Couric, and Dan Rather.

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NBC News // IMDB

#1. Meet the Press

Total length: 72 years
Network: NBC
First broadcast: Nov. 6, 1947
Final broadcast: Ongoing

Currently hosted by Chuck Todd, “Meet the Press” has been on television for almost as long as network television seasons have existed, premiering in 1947. As a result, “Meet the Press” is the longest-running television show in United States broadcasting history. Beginning as a radio show in 1945, the television program initially featured one guest and a panel asking questions in a press conference format. Beginning in under the late Tim Russert, the format evolved to one-on-one interviews and in-depth panel discussions.

 

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