The growth of original scripted programming continues to outpace FX’s projections. Ahead of FX Networks CEO John Landgraf‘s semi-annual State of the Industry remarks at TCA today, the network announced that an estimated 454 scripted original series aired in 2016, continuing their steady climb from 420 in 2015 and 389 in 2014. The number exceeds Landgraf’s most recent projection from the August TCA that the number would grow to 430-450 in 2016. (You can see the chart below the post.)
The growth of original series has become a feature of FX’s TCA exec presentations since 2015, when Landgraf proclaimed that “There is simply too much television,” predicting that a decline would begin after 2016. He revised that projection in August 2016, saying, “It now seems clear that, at a minimum, the peak will be in calendar 2017 – and there is enough inertial momentum here that we could well see the growth trend carrying over into the 2018 calendar year.”
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Landgraf today admitted that his revision might have been overly optimistic. “I had said when I first labeled Peak TV that it would come [last] year. I was obviously wrong. I’m now suggesting that there will be more series in 2017 than 2016, but I will go out on limb and stick to my prediction that 2017 or 2018 would be peak.”
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Landgraf attributed the continuing growth to the “extraordinary amount of capital flowing from Silicon Valley into companies like Netflix and Amazon that created the acceleration in increasing programming.”
But Landgraf was quick to stress that while he and his FX team “identify the [Peak TV] phenomenon and label it, we haven’t tried to use it as an excuse for lack of performance.”
That claim was backed up by the long list of accolades and year-end Top 10 finishes for FX series Landgraf noted, including scoring the most Golden Globes of any network on Sunday, with two each for Atlanta and The People v. O.J. Simpson.
And while Landgraf said that “there is a lot of good that comes from fragmentation, including bringing out new diverse voices that never would have gotten a chance,” he added that “I still worry where we are going through the fragmentation created by the web, I don’t like everyone having their own news, their own TV shows.”
He called FX a network of “modest scale that punches above weight.” “We are an ad-supported, not super-elite service, and we always have had programs broad enough for anyone in the country,” he added, listing hit biker drama Sons of Anarchy as an example. “We want to do big shows. We want to make good commercial shows that are able to be part of the cultural conversation.”
On that note, Landgraf shared how he and his team decide what shows to order in the era of Peak TV. “Our criteria for picking up a show is suggesting, will two people, sitting at lunch 20 years from now, be having a conversation about this show? Can it be a show that survives and has enduring value?”
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