8 Longest-Running Television Shows in the US

The world’s first TV stations appeared in the United States in the late 1920s and early 1930s. While TV shows were novel at the time, as we all know, they’ve become an almost universal part of life. TV is so integral to the world’s culture that many shows embody the cultural zeitgeist. 

Of course, all of the first TV shows are gone, but all of the shows on this list have been around for decades. In fact, many of these shows first aired in the 1950s, when TV started becoming an everyday pastime. And while it might be hard to believe, most of these shows are still going strong. 

8. The Young and the Restless

Premiere Date: March 26, 1973
Number of Seasons:  47
Network:  CBS
Genre:  Soap opera
Still Running:  Yes

photo source: Wikipedia

 

Since its debut in 1973, The Young and the Restless has won 9 Emmy Awards and has also been the highest-rated daytime drama on American television. Additionally, this iconic soap opera has been right at the top of the Nielsen ratings for more than 1,000 weeks since 1988.

The Young and the Restless focuses on two families and in particular the rivalry between Jess Walton’s “Jill Abbott” and Jeanne Cooper’s “Katherine Chancellor”, the longest rivalry on any American soap opera.

This widely popular show is also the first television show to receive its own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The show aired its 12,000th episode in 2020 and CBS has renewed The Young and the Restless through the 2023–24 television season. 


7. The Price Is Right

Premiere Date: September 4, 1972
Number of Seasons:  50
Network:  CBS
Genre:  Game show
Still Running:  Yes

 

photo source: Flickr via Digital Photos

Though this show is relatively young compared to the other stalwarts on this list, The Price is Right is the longest-running game show in television history. This popular game show series has aired over 9,000 episodes over a span of 50 years!

The Price is Right is competition that lets the studio audience participate as contestants to win cash and prizes. It was originally hosted by Bob Barker until Drew Carey took over in 2007 — Barker hosted the show for 35 years! 

This show is a staple of daytime television and it’s so popular that TV Guide even named it as one of the “greatest game show of all time.”


6. Sesame Street

Premiere Date: November 10, 1969
Number of Seasons:  52
Network:  NET, PBS, HBO
Genre:  Children’s educational television
Still Running:  Yes

 

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

In its 53rd season, Sesame Street is one of the most iconic children’s educational programs in television history. The fact that it has a huge fan base among kids and adults alike, is a testament to the show’s popularity!

Combining humor, live action, animation, puppetry, and educational lessons, Sesame Street is well known for its literally colorful characters, the “Muppets”!

The show has undergone many changes in its 53-year run in order to reflect the changing times and changing viewer-patterns. Due to this, Sesame Street is considered one of the best educational television shows for children across the world.

As of 1996, 95% of all preschoolers in America had watched the show before they turned 3, and as of 2014. The show has won 210 Daytime Emmy Awards, 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, and 8 Grammy Awards, surpassing the trophy tally of all other children’s shows.


5. Scooby-Doo

Premiere Date: September 13, 1969
Number of Seasons:  29
Network:  CBS (though it was later broadcast on ABC, The WB, The CW, Cartoon Network, and HBO Max)
Genre:  Cartoon
Still Running:  Yes

photo source: Wikipedia

The fun of childhood was elevated to a whole new level with “those meddling kids” and their “meddling dog” and if Scooby-Doo wasn’t a part of your childhood, we seriously have no words for you!

This animated cartoon franchise, originally created by Hanna-Barbera Productions, gained a mass following the likes of which were unprecedented for a cartoon show. The enduring popularity of Scooby-Doo has lead lead to various movies and spin-offs, and is the reason why the show is still broadcast today, despite having gone through several networks over the years.

The current Scooby-Doo series is airing on the streaming service HBO Max. 


4. Days of Our Lives

Premiere Date: November 8, 1965
Number of Seasons:  57
Network:  NBC
Genre:  Soap opera
Still Running:  Yes

photo source: Wikipedia

Days of Our Lives is one of the longest running soap operas in television history, first going on air on November 8, 1965. The show hasn’t looked back since and is still going strong, with hour-long broadcasts every weekday around the world!

Due to its coverage of topics that other soaps shied away from in the 70s, Days of Our Lives was considered a daring drama, making it the most widely distributed soap opera in the United States and leading to numerous references on other shows, parodies, and crossover appearances.

In fact, the show was (and still is!) so popular that apart from the good common folk of the United States, it has several A-list fans such as Julia Roberts and Thurgood Marshall!

While there have been talks of ending the show in recent years, NBC decided to renew Days of Our Lives through September 2023. 


3. Guiding Light

Premiere Date: June 30, 1952 (ended September 18, 2009) 
Number of Seasons:  57
Network:  CBS
Genre:  Soap opera
Still Running:  No

 

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

The mother of all soap operas, Guiding Light set the precedent for soap operas around the world. This American television soap even holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running television drama in the country’s history.

Initially a radio broadcast from 1937-1956, the show switched to its televised format in 1957 and has an astounding runtime of 72 years with both formats combined.

On April 1, 2009, CBS announced that Guiding Light was canceled due to low ratings, after broadcasting more than 15,000 episodes. The show aired its final episode on September 18, 2009. 


2. The Tonight Show

Date: September 27, 1954
Number of Seasons:  68
Network:  NBC
Genre:  Talk show
Still Running:  Yes

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

One of the first late-night talk shows to be broadcast, NBC’s The Tonight Show is the world’s longest-running talk show and the network’s third-longest running show.

Over its 68-year run, the show has gone through 6 official hosts: Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson, Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, and Jimmy Fallon. Of these, Johnny Carson is the longest-serving host (30 seasons), while Fallon is the current host.

The show follows a one-hour preset format that is filmed in front of a live audience and is broadcast every weeknight, with guest stars on every episode. In fact, the appeal of the show lies in the fact that it’s humorous and lets the audience relate to their favorite celebrities by involving them in fun games and tasks, which lets audience see a totally new and fun side to their favorite celebrities. 


1. Meet The Press

Date: November 6, 1947
Number of Seasons:  70
Network:  NBC
Genre:  News/interview program
Still Running:  Yes

photo source: Wikimedia Commons

With a whopping 75 years of runtime, Meet the Press is the longest-running television show in America as well as the world. This news/interview program, broadcast on NBC, focuses on bringing opinions, discussions and updates on issues of politics, foreign policy, public affairs and economics, specializing in interviews with leaders across the world.

The show also holds the distinction of being the first live television network news show to have a sitting U.S President, Gerald Ford, on it (broadcast on November 9, 1975). The hour-long program still airs every week and has its audio feed simulcast on various radio networks.

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