How much TV is too much? FX’s CEO John Landgraf has been meticulously keeping tally of original scripted series on TV, and reported at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour today that the final number for 2014 was 371. His projection is that the total will surpass 400 in 2015.
“There is simply too much television,” Landgraf said. He noted that for years, there had been expectations that the proliferation of original scripted series would plateau but that has not happened –though that may be about to change, especially in light of this 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,” Landgraf said.
“There is too much competition,” he said. “It is hard to find good shows… and I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control.”
Landgraf blamed the glut of programming for the demise of freshman comedy series The Comedians.
“Some of the later episodes of the first season were really great, but you (the critics) and the audience are so overwhelmed, it’s hard to go back to shows you have rejected,” Landgraf said, adding that working with Billy Crystal on The Comedians had been “one of the best professional experiences in my career.”
The Comedians was “an outstanding creative achievement, we just couldn’t find substantial audience to sustain it,” he said.
During the Q&A, Landgraf also argued that the “TV advertising model is broken” and “has to be reinvented” with fewer, more targeted ads so ad-supported outlets can compete with commercial-free content providers like streaming services and premium cable.