How To Get a Copy of a TV Show on DVD, Video, or Tape
Looking to find a copy of a specific taping of your favorite TV show?
At one time or another, many people have wished that they could get their hands on a video, tape, or DVD of a particular episode of a TV show. There are several reasons that one might want a video of a specific TV show taping. Perhaps you were in the audience on that day and you want a memento. Maybe you were actually shown on camera and you want proof of your 15 seconds of fame. Or maybe there was a segment that you really enjoyed and would like to see again. Perhaps a friend or a favorite celebrity was on the episode. Or you might have missed a segment that you were desperate to see, so you really want to get ahold of that tape.
Finding TV Show Tapes
The bad news is that it can be very difficult to get videotapes or DVDs of TV show episodes. It's not as simple as going to the video store to get a feature film on DVD. The nature of TV production is fleeting. Many of the shows are cheaply produced and come and go quickly. Even a popular and long-running TV show like Good Morning America can't make videos commercially available because they tape hundreds of hours of footage each year, and it just isn't financially feasible for them to package and sell each day's episode to consumers.
However, if you happen to know somebody, or if you just happen to be very persuasive, you can try contacting your affiliate (i.e. the local TV station that broadcasts the show in question). They should have archived copies of everything that they air, so technically someone at your local ABC affiliate should be able to make you a copy of whichever episode of Good Morning America that you would like a tape or DVD of. Obviously the tricky part is finding a person who works there that has access and is willing to do this for you. But if you're persistent, you may luck out.
The Exception - The Today Show
The ever-popular NBC morning show The Today Show is unusual in that it has an official mechanism for requesting copies of tapes through the NBC News Archives. If you call 212-664-3797 or fax a request to 212-703-8558, you can request a video of footage from their archives. You must tell them the date, subject, and any other helpful information so that they can locate and copy to video the footage that you want. Once they get your request, they will send you an agreement form. Here's the catch: There is a not-so-small fee associated with this service. NBC charges $150 for up to 5 minutes of video. So if you're really intent on getting those 10 seconds of you and your family waving at the Today Show cameras from the window on tape, it's going to cost you big.
Digital Video Records (DVRs)
Thankfully the advent of the DVR has lessened the need for frantic searches for these hard-to-find archival tapes and DVDs. Most people, if they plan to attend a TV taping or if they want to see a particular episode of a TV show, they simply set their DVRs. (Or VCRs, if you're really old-school.) And if they forget to set theirs, they might call around and find a friend who happened to record it.
Online Video Footage of TV Shows
The increased usage of video on the internet has also made things easier. As more and more TV shows post online video footage of each episode, the need for finding tapes becomes obsolete. For many if not most TV shows, you can now go to their official website a day or two after the taping airs to see clips of show highlights and in some cases the entire episode. Some shows even keep years and years worth of this footage in online archives.
If the official site fails you, or if you're looking for an old episode of a canceled show, there are websites that have archived old footage and clips. For instance, you were able to see many old Ricki Lake Show clips at Squidoo.com's Ricki Lake Video Showcase and VideoSurf.com, but those no longer exist.