America’s Longest-Running TV Shows—How Much Time Have You Invested?

How long does it take to watch your favorite show?

Shows like General Hospital, Saturday Night Live, and The Price is Right have spanned generations with loyal fans who still catch new episodes even though the shows premiered over 40 years ago. The beloved children’s show Arthur is about to turn 25 this year, meaning many kids who watched the show in the ‘90s are now able to tune into new plot lines with kids of their own. 

Watching each episode of these and other long-running TV shows is no small feat (we’re looking at you, Days of Our Lives fans who have seen all 14,000+ episodes). With this in mind, the team at GetWindstream, an authorized reseller of Windstream, used an IMDB list of the 20 longest-running TV shows that are still on air and calculated the total amount of time that loyal fans dedicate to the top long-time programs.


Dig into the data

  • General Hospital first aired 58 years ago and has aired nearly 15,000 episodes. Since the original air date in 1963, we’ve seen cell phones go from a mere thought to a computer in our pockets.
  • By the time the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, nine of the currently-active shows were well established.
  • While Grey’s Anatomy is newer than Family Guy, Arthur, South Park, and SpongeBob SquarePants, the show has more than double the amount of airtime to date, clocking in at 15,621 minutes.
  • It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a topic—by that standard, dedicated Days of Our Lives, The Young and the Restless, and General Hospital fans can all consider themselves soap opera masters.
  • The average American works 1,801 hours per year, which is fewer hours than Wheel of Fortune, The Bold and the Beautiful, Jeopardy, The Price is Right, The Young and the Restless, Days of Our Lives, and General Hospital have been on air.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has the shortest total time to watch of all the series we examined, but you’ll still have to dedicate over a month consecutively to watch every episode.


ShowYear Show PremieredSeasonsEpisodesEpisode Length in MinutesTotal minutesTV HOURSDuration MONTHS:DAYS:HOURS:MINUTES:SECONDSPremiere Date
SpongeBob SquarePants199912277236371106.183333301:03:10:11:00May 1
South Park199724310226820113.666666701:03:17:40:00August 13
Arthur19962426430792013201:04:12:00:00October 7
Family Guy199919371228162136.033333301:04:16:02:00January 31
Grey's Anatomy2005173814115621260.3501:09:20:21:00March 27
The Simpsons1989327312216082268.033333301:10:04:02:00December 17
The Real World1992336533019590326.501:12:14:30:00May 21
America’s Funniest Home Videos198931844302532042201:16:14:00:00November 26
Family Feud1999229753029250487.501:19:07:30:00September 20
Big Brother2000237844434496574.933333301:22:22:56:00July 5
Survivor200041600603600060001:24:00:00:00May 31
Saturday Night Live19754691190819901366.502:24:22:30:00October 11
Sesame Street196950178555981751636.2503:08:04:15:00November 10
Wheel of Fortune1983387263302178903631.505:30:07:30:00January 7
The Bold and the Beautiful198734835630250680417806:22:02:00:00March 23
Jeopardy1984378363302508904181.506:22:05:30:00March 30
The Price is Right197249911560546900911505:10:00:00:00September 4
The Young and the Restless19734812277607366201227705:25:13:00:00March 26
Days of Our Lives19655314136608481601413608:11:00:00:00November 8
General Hospital19635814809608885401480909:08:01:00:00April 1

GetWindstream is an authorized seller of Windstream products. 

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