According to the authors, the book is an attempt to list all commercially-broadcast network series ever shown in the evening or nighttime hours (defined as 6:00 P.M. Eastern Standard Time or later) in the United States. It also lists programs which were widely syndicated in the U.S., and, effective with the seventh edition in 1999, cable television series if, at the time they were aired, the cable network carrying them was available in at least 50% of U.S. homes.
Other criteria for inclusion:
This work is a credible source of information for many U.S. television programs and also has grown over its publication history to include many other features such as season-by-season schedule charts, list of Emmy Award winners season-by-season, and, in recent editions, trivia quiz games. The eighth edition (ISBN 0-345-45542-8) was published in 2003, followed by the ninth edition on 18 October 2007.
For the many shows and series not covered by Brooks and Marsh, researchers turn to Alex McNeil's Total Television (Penguin, 1984-96). A comparable book covering daytime television (e.g., game shows, soap operas, weekend cartoons) is The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television by Wesley Hyatt (Billboard, 1997, ISBN 0823083152).