FX continues to beat the too-much-TV drum to a mostly receptive audience of Reporters Who Cover Television, today issuing a report that the total number of scripted series hit a new high this year with 409 dramas, comedies and limited series across broadcast networks, basic and pay cable and OTT services.
The figure marks an increase of 9% over 2014 (409 vs. 376). Since as recently as 2009, the study says, the number of scripted series has increased 94%, rising from 211 to 409, with a 174% growth in scripted series on basic cable (181 vs. 66).
“This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform – broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming – led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago,” Julie Piepenkotter, Executive Vice President of Research for FX Networks, said in today’s news.
Earlier this year at summer TCA, John Landgraf, FX Networks and FX Productions CEO, spoke with passion about the proliferation of scripted series television and “peak TV.” He predicted the number of scripted series would surpass the 400 mark. Sending a chill down the spines of TV critics in the packed hotel ballroom, Landgraf forecast, and not in a good way, the number of scripted series would peak this year or next. “There is simply too much television,” he said, which has hurt, and killed some good shows that otherwise might have survived and maybe even thrived. Back then, Landgraf predicted a decline in tonnage was inevitable, especially in light of that week’s market reaction to media stocks, which took a hit over cord-cutting concerns. “My sense is that 2016 or 2017 will represent peak TV in America, and then we will see a decline,” he said. “There is too much competition…It is hard to find good shows… and I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control.” Much nodding in agreement in the hall.
It played big in the hall; Landgraf took the message with him to the Edinburgh TV Festival later that same month. This time, he said of the content glut: “It’s like winning a pie-eating contest every day… In some ways, we’re choking on our own abundance.” And, again, he forecast “some level of crisis” was a coming.
This morning, FX issued its update:
“The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years,” said Piepenkotter.
Dating back to 2002 – when FX launched The Shield, which the company noted this morning was basic cable’s first scripted drama series to win Emmy and Golden Globe awards – the greatest growth in the number of scripted series has come courtesy of basic cable networks with a 484% increase over that span (181 vs. 31).
And, if your head doesn’t already hurt: these totals do not include reality TV programming, made-for-TV movies, specials, news, sports, or daytime or children’s programming.