The network also edited movies for time and objectionable content.The latter was not a major concern with the films of the 1950s, but became more prevalent as movies expanded the boundaries of censorship. Sometimes, it was just easier not to show a "racy movie" like Otto Preminger's The Moon Is Blue--which didn't premiere on network TV until 1973--twenty years after its theatrical release.
|Kiss of the Vampire before re-editing.|
The success of Saturday Night at the Movies prompted CBS and ABC to add movie nights. That scheduling tactic became so popular that, during the 1968-69 season, a network movie aired in prime time on each day of the week: NBC showed movies on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday; ABC did on Sunday and Wednesday; and CBS did on Thursday and Friday.
|Clu Gulager and Lee Marvin as The Killers.|
By the mid-1970s, spurred by the popularity of ABC's Movie of the Week, telefilms began to outnumber theatrical films shown on network TV. A decade later, cable channels and videotape distributors overtook the television networks as the first option for a post-theatrical movie release. The network's familiar "world premiere" claim was modified to "broadcast television premiere." It was the beginning of the end, although the networks still had sporadic successes. When NBC showed Gone With the Wind in 1976, it became the most-watched broadcast in U.S. television history at that time.