Our studio has a one-hour TV program which runs three times a week and broadcasts different films. The content of the program is usually like the following, so can we call each broadcast an episode of the program?

1st broadcast: part one of a film

2nd broadcast: part two of the same film

3rd broadcast: part one of a new film

4th broadcast: part two of the new film


Does the word “episode” apply to each individual broadcast of a TV program, no matter what the content each time?

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    In British English 'episode' normally refers to a section of an ongoing drama, whether it's a long-running series or a story told in a few episodes. I think a feature film shown in two halves would probably be described as 'Part 1' and 'Part 2', but it's not usual practice to broadcast the halves on different days. – Kate Bunting Oct 27 '18 at 8:21
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    Thank you. Our program is called "Eastern Light Film Theater," and it indeed runs all year long, with each episode playing different films. If "episode" is not the proper word to describe an individual broadcast, then what is the right word? – Daniel Oct 27 '18 at 9:01
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    I would have no trouble calling each of those broadcastings an episode. Episodes 1 and 2 show movie A, while episodes 3 and 4 show movie B. I’d have more trouble trying to keep up with when an episode starts a movie if the show is on three times a week, but a movie only takes two episodes – sounds fairly impossible to keep track of. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 26 '18 at 15:17
  • episodes are for series. If it ain't a series, it don't have episodes. [bad grammar on purpose]. – Lambie 1 hour ago Delete – Lambie Dec 21 '19 at 17:25
  • What a pain in the patootie. A perfectly good answer completely ignored. I guess "your studio" is not much interested in quality. – Lambie Jan 20 at 18:15

The online Oxford dictionary of English offers the following definition of episode in the context of broadcasting.

2 Each of the separate instalments into which a serialized story or radio or television programme is divided. ‘the final episode of the series’

So the answer is ‘yes’. Broadcasting media have a ‘librarianship’, where programmes that are not one-off or daily are for reference purposes divided into ‘series’ and ‘episodes’. An ‘episode’ is a single broadcast made as part of a series.

We tend to think of it as part of a continuous drama. There is a good historical reason for this. The Greek theatre was divided into:

‘theatron’ (auditorium, though literally it means the place for watching); ‘orchestra’ (the circular place where choric dancing took place; ‘skini’ <σκηνή>, from which we get ‘scene’, which started out life as some sort of tent in which the actors could change, and on which the tragedian Sophocles first painted ‘scenery’. ‘eisodos’ or ‘entrance’ (one on each side) along which both chorus and actors could enter. So an ‘episode’ was a coming onto the scene, in which one or more actors advanced the plot.

That is how we got the word episode to mean a relatively self-contained portion of a serialised drama or novel.

That is where the confusion arises. The word ‘serial’ is well established for broadcasts like Eastenders or The Archers. But ‘series’ are something slightly different. In BBC IPlayer listings, these are identified by date of first broadcast. This is true of any daily or weekly broadcast, without a pre-determined last date.

Dramas and documentaries with a predetermined end point get listed by series number and episode number.

Confusing? Yes, a little. Serials without a predetermined last episode are catalogued by date. Serialised novels and dramas are listed by episode.

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    A general dictionary is not a good guide to industry-specific terms. In any case, there is nothing in the quoted definition to support your statement: "An ‘episode’ is a single broadcast made as part of a series.". That's a good thing, because it is wrong. You are right that an episode is self-contained. Which is why an installment that ends with "To be continued" is not an episode. – michael.hor257k Oct 27 '18 at 10:43
  • @michael.hor257k On Iplayer, the use of ‘series’ and ‘episode’ are as I described.. Thanks for the reminder about the use of the word ‘instalment’, which escaped me. – Tuffy Oct 27 '18 at 13:54

Compare it to how the word is used in reference to talk shows and podcasts: the episodes of a podcast rarely have anything to do with eachother, but they are produced as a series, and that's what makes them episodes.

For a normal TV show, an episode is usually a part of the story that is broadcasted as a unit, and together span a narrative over a whole series.

In your TV show, if I understand it correctly, you focus on some certain type of film and broadcast a part of a film in each broadcast.

If you think of it in terms of broadcasting a single film in two parts, "episode" is a bit unnatural, but if you think of your show as an overarching concept covering many films, I think "episode" is fine. If it is meant as a series, the individual parts can be considered episodes.

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Question Our studio has a one-hour TV program which runs three times a week and broadcasts different films. The content of the program is usually like the following, so can we call each broadcast an episode of the program?

  • A program or show (here, Eastern Light Film Theater) is said to be aired or air on broadcast TV.

  • A show can be aired on certain days and at certain times.

  • If a program is airing a movie, it is airing a movie. If the movie is not shown in full, part of it is shown or broadcast or aired.

Notice this show on PBS called Putin's Revenge, it has two parts, Part One and Part Two.


And Superman, first shown in two parts.

The first major network showing of Superman in 1982 was broadcast in two parts with previously unused footage.

movie shown in two parts

Answer: Your show or program is called x, it is the airing or showing of a film. Films can be shown in two parts. Other programs on television are called series, and series have episodes. A film cannot be said to have episodes.

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An episode is something that has a beginning and an end:

An episode is a coherent narrative unit within a larger dramatic work.

When an episode is too long to be aired in a single continuous broadcast, we are talking about a multi-part episode:

A multi-part episode is used when a given plot development is, quite simply, too big for one time slot.

See examples of usage here and here..

Note: your use of the term broadcast is potentially misleading. The same episode - or a part - can be broadcast (aired) many times.

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  • When our show "Eastern Light Film Theater" is aired, can I call it an (individual) program of the entire program? And will you use "Next Program Preview" to describe the final section of each individual program displaying what is coming up next time? – Daniel Oct 27 '18 at 9:24
  • I am not aware of the term "individual program". Your entire show (all the episodes, in all seasons) is the program. If you don't want to use "part", how about "installment" - or some other synonyms? – michael.hor257k Oct 27 '18 at 9:51

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