Difference between Eastern Standard Time and Pacific Standard Time

November 14, 2016 by Editorial Team

Nationally televised shows in the U.S., from morning programs to live sporting events to award shows, all post their airing time according to a specific time zone. Some cable channels even repeat their prime time shows three hours after their initial airing time. They always use Eastern Standard Time as the default time for a particular reason, as opposed to using any time zone such as the Pacific Standard Time. Let us find out the difference.


Eastern Standard Time vs Pacific Standard Time

Eastern Standard Time, or EST, is observed by regions within the Eastern Time Zone. These areas include 17 U.S. states located in Eastern region of the U.S., several eastern parts of Canada, Quintana Roo in Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and Panama in Central America. These places are 5 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC, also known as Greenwich Mean Time).

During spring or summer, Eastern Daylight Time or EDT is in place in the northern regions of this time zone. When observing daylight saving time, clocks are advanced an hour at exactly 2:00 am EST on the second Sunday of March. Daylight Saving Time ends on the first Sunday of November, where clocks are moved back an hour at 2:00 am EDT. The Caribbean and Panama do not observe DST.

Eastern Standard Time is the default time for the whole of the U.S.; the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., and New York City, the largest U.S. city, are both in the Eastern Time Zone. This is the reason U.S. media groups usually report events that happened or will happen in Eastern Time, regardless of if the event is in a different time zone. The same applies to most nationally televised shows, particularly live, primetime and weekend shows. Even live sporting events held outside the Eastern Time Zone have their game times posted in EST.

The Pacific Time Zone, or PT, observes Pacific Standard Time (PST) when following standard time by being behind eight hours from the Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC-8). Here, Daylight Saving Time is observed by subtracting 7 hours or UTC-7. Several U.S. states are in the Pacific Time zone, including Washington, California, Nevada, the Idaho Panhandle and Oregon. In Canada, places including the majority of British Columbia and the whole of Yukon, Tungsten and the Northwest Territories make up the Pacific Time Zone. Baja California in Mexico is within the Pacific Time Zone.

Eastern Standard Time vs Pacific Standard Time

So, what’s the difference between Eastern Standard Time and Pacific Standard Time? Eastern Standard Time is 5 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time, or UTC-5. Pacific Standard Time is 8 hours behind the Coordinated Universal Time, represented by UTC-8. Thus, the Eastern Time Zone is three hours ahead of the Pacific Time Zone.

Seventeen states in the U.S. follow EST, while five states follow PST.

Comparison Chart

Eastern Standard TimePacific Standard Time
5 hours behind UTC8 hours behind UTC
Observed by 17 U.S. statesObserved by 5 U.S. states


Here is a quick video about EST and PST.