Television Movies Online
In the early days of television, the focus of network programming was on episodic programs, variety shows and live performances. The idea of a television film, a full-length movie produced specifically for television but stylistically similar to a theatrical film, didn't surface until the television medium was a few decades old. Through the 1960s and 1970s, however, the made-for-TV movie became a popular, if not always well-respected, format.
Although the earliest TV movies hit the air waves in the 1950s, it wasn't until the 1960s that the major television networks began to produce and promote original movies as a significant part of their programming. The marketing premise behind these early TV movies was that they were event programming, as substantial as a new theatrical release, and viewers were encouraged to stay in and watch them rather than going out to the theater. In some cases, original TV films replaced broadcasts of theatrical films.
Made-for-TV movies became even more popular with networks in the 1970s. They were easy and relatively inexpensive to produce. They could also be made quickly, leading to a tradition of stories depicting current social and political issues that could be brought to air in a timely fashion. The fast, low-budget production of TV movies, however, also contributed to the general low quality of the genre, and many made-for-TV movies are stylistically closer to long-form versions of episodic TV programs than they are to theatrical movies.
As the internet and streaming video have changed the way that viewers consume programming, the definition of the TV movie has become less clear. Cable networks now regularly produce their own original films, and some theatrical-level films are released directly to video, by passing the theater altogether and blurring the line between theatrical films and TV movies.