48 Hours
Created byHoward Stringer
Directed byRob Klug
Presented by
ComposerJulian Harris
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons36
No. of episodes991[1]
Executive producerJudy Tygard
ProducersChuck Stevenson, Liza Findley, Paul La Rosa, Ruth Chenetz, Alec Sirken, Chris O'Connell, Marc Goldbaum, Chris Young Ritzen, Marcella Spencer, Lisa Freed, Elena DiFiore
EditorsDoreen Schecter, Greg McLaughlin, Phil Tangel, Marlon Disla, Richard Barber, Mike McHugh, Ken Blum, Diana Modica, Grayce Arlotta-Berner, David Spungen, Jud Johnston, Joan Adelman, Michelle Harris, Gary Winter, Marcus Balsam
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time42 minutes
Production companyCBS News
Original release
Syndication (from September 11, 2023)[2]
ReleaseJanuary 19, 1988 (1988-01-19) –
60 Minutes

48 Hours, also known as 48 Hours Mystery, is an American documentary news magazine television show broadcast on CBS. The show has been broadcast on the network since January 19, 1988 in the United States. The show airs Saturdays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, as part of the network's placeholder Crimetime Saturday block; as such, it is currently one of only two remaining first-run prime time shows (excluding sports) airing Saturday nights on the major U.S. broadcast television networks (along with Univision's Sabadazo). The show sometimes airs two-hour editions or two consecutive one-hour editions, depending on the subject involved or to serve as counterprogramming against other networks. Judy Tygard was named senior executive producer in January 2019, replacing Susan Zirinsky, who served as executive producer since 1996 until her early 2019 appointment as president of CBS News.

Reruns of 48 Hours are regularly broadcast on Investigation Discovery, the Oprah Winfrey Network and TLC as part of their daytime and/or weekend schedules, with varying titles based on the edition's subject matter (such as 48 Hours Hard Evidence, 48 Hours Investigates (a title that has also been used for the CBS broadcasts), 48 Hours on OWN or 48 Hours on ID).


Original format

The program was created by former CBS News president Howard Stringer. It drew its title, inspiration and original format from the CBS News documentary 48 Hours on Crack Street, which aired in September 1986, centering on the drug crisis plaguing a number of U.S. neighborhoods. Like the original documentary, the program originally focused on showing events occurring within a 48-hour time span; this format was eventually phased out by the early 1990s.

One of the contributors to that program, CBS News correspondent Harold Dow, had been a member of the 48 Hours on-air staff since its premiere. Dan Rather, at the time also serving as anchor of the CBS Evening News, was the primary host of 48 Hours for its first 14 years on the air. In 1997, CBS aired a special episode of 48 Hours titled Property of 48 Hours, which focused on some of the stories over the program's first nine years.

After low ratings on Saturday nights, the show was moved to Wednesday nights, replacing the comedies Lenny and Doctor Doctor, and it was soon to be moved to the 10:00 p.m. slot.[3]

Current format

In the mid-2000s, the program transitioned into its current format, originally known as 48 Hours Mystery although it has since reverted to its original title, which mainly presents "true crime" documentaries.[4] On nights except Sundays where live primetime breaking news coverage from CBS News occurs, the timeslot of that coverage is branded as a special edition of 48 Hours, but is not part of the Saturday program's yearly ratings average and has little to no involvement from dedicated members of the 48 Hours production and on-air staff.

In 2009, the program featured interviews with Jodi Arias concerning the murder of her former boyfriend, Travis Alexander. These recordings were later used in 2011 as evidence in court to convict Arias, the first time the program's interviews had ever been used in a death penalty trial.[5]

On September 17, 2011, 48 Hours began broadcasting in high definition, making it the last prime time newsmagazine on U.S. broadcast television to convert to the format.


48 Hours Investigates/Mystery

The program was revamped in 2002, when Lesley Stahl took over hosting duties from Dan Rather, and its title was changed to 48 Hours Investigates. The title was changed again to 48 Hours Mystery in 2004, and with its single-topic format, it does not use a single host but is narrated by the reporter assigned to the story. The current format of the documentary primarily deals with real-life mysteries and crime stories, again with just one mystery per episode (such as the murder of Brian Stidham),[6] owing to its heritage structure of featuring a single topic per episode.

The program is not confined to reporting mysteries; CBS often uses the 48 Hours title or timeslot to present mainly special reports on breaking news events only scheduled on the same day, such as a 2006 report on the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007 or coverage of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012. However, the relationship between these special programs and the rest of the program's editions are essentially limited to the program's title.

48 Hours: Live to Tell

48 Hours: Live to Tell uses a different format from the earlier versions of the program. This format does not utilize a narrator; instead the stories are recounted entirely by the victims and those who know the victims of crimes; some episodes also focus on other life-threatening situations, but are recounted in the same manner.

48 Hours: NCIS & NCIS: The Cases They Can't Forget

48 Hours: NCIS, also known as NCIS: The Cases They Can't Forget, utilizes a similar format to the standard, although it instead features real life cases from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Rocky Carroll, who plays NCIS director Leon Vance on NCIS, narrates these episodes, which aired on April 25, May 12, and May 23-June 13, 2017, all of which except for May 12 being on Tuesdays.[7] As of 2018, it is in its second season.

On May 17, 2019, it was announced that the third season will premiere on May 29, 2019.[8] For the third season, it was retitled NCIS: The Cases They Can't Forget.

Broadcast history and Nielsen ratings

Season Time slot (ET) Rank Rating[9]
1987–88 Tuesday at 8:00-9:00
1988–89 Thursday at 8:00-9:00 (March 1988-September 1990)
1990–91 Saturday at 10:00-11:00 (September 1990)
Wednesday at 8:00-9:00 (October 1990-March 1991)
1991–92 Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (April 1991-December 1994) 29 13.2
1992–93 26 13.5 (Tied with Blossom)
1994–95 Thursday at 10:00-11:00 (January 1995-September 2000)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (July–September 1997)
Tuesday at 10:00-11:00 (March–April 1998)
Monday at 10:00-11:00 (June–September 1998)
Monday at 10:00-11:00 (June–September 1999)
Tuesday at 10:00-11:00 (July–September 1999)
Monday at 10:00-11:00 (May–July 2000)
Saturday at 8:00-9:00 (June 2000)
2000–01 Thursday at 8:00-9:00 (October–December 2000)
Thursday at 10:00-11:00 (December 2000-February 2001)
Thursday at 10:00-11:00 (May–August 2001)
Monday at 10:00-11:00 (May–July 2001)
2001–02 Friday at 10:00-11:00 (July 2001-June 2002)
Thursday at 8:00-9:00 (August–September 2001)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (March–May 2002)
Monday at 10:00-11:00 (April–August 2002)
2002–03 Friday at 8:00-9:00 (June 2002-January 2003)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (July–September 2002)
Friday at 10:00-11:00 (August–September 2002)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (January–June 2003)
Friday at 10:00-11:00 (February–August 2003)
Saturday at 8:00-9:00 (July–August 2003)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (August–September 2003)
2003–04 Saturday at 8:00-9:00 (September–November 2003)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (October 2003-September 2004)
Friday at 10:00-11:00 (February–March 2004)
Friday at 10:00-11:00 (May–September 2004)
2004–05 Saturday at 10:00-11:00
Tuesday at 10:00-11:00 (May–July 2005)
Tuesday at 10:00-11:00 (June–August 2006)
Wednesday at 10:00-11:00 (August–September 2021)
2018–19 TBA

International release

The series has also aired on various channels in Canada, most recently Global. Since June 2015, it has also aired in Australia on Network 10 (a sister network of CBS since 2017).[10]

Awards and nominations

The program has received over 20 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards (one in 2000 for the report "Heroes Under Fire"[11] and one for the reports "Abortion Battle" and "On Runaway Street"),[12] and an Ohio State Award.


  1. ^ "48 Hours on CBS". TV Guide. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  2. ^ "'48 Hours' Will Launch in Syndication This Fall". 14 August 2023.
  3. ^ "If at first you don't succeed...new season cancellations and reshufflings began" (PDF). Broadcasting. 1990-10-08. Retrieved 2021-09-13.
  4. ^ Sara A. Bibel. "'48 Hours' Kicks Off Its 25th Full Season With a Fresh New Line-Up of Crime and Justice Stories that Make a Difference". TV by the Numbers. Zap2It (Tribune Media). Archived from the original on September 23, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2012.
  5. ^ "48 Hours - The Mind of a Killer: Unraveling the Lies of Jodi Arias". CBS News. 17 May 2013.
  6. ^ "An Eye For An Eye". CBS News. October 25, 2007.
  7. ^ ""48 Hours: NCIS" program schedule". CBS News. May 22, 2017.
  8. ^ "CBS Announces Premiere Dates for Two Returning True-Crime News Series". The Futon Critic. May 17, 2019.
  9. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (Ninth ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 1693. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  10. ^ "48 Hours". TV Catchup Australia. 28 March 2021.
  11. ^ "60th Annual Peabody Awards". Peabody Awards. May 2001.
  12. ^ "60th Annual Peabody Awards". Peabody Awards. May 2001.