Commentary

Who Will Suffer From 'Peak' Number Of Scripted Shows?

Nearly 10% more scripted shows exist on broadcast and cable TV now than versus a year ago, says FX Networks. And that is apparently a problem.

Some 409 TV shows are on the air versus 376 a year ago, nearly double that from six years ago. All this gives more detail to the general scenario John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks, warned about this past summer.

The caution came to this: Too much good television. Viewers can’t get to all of it, and neither can TV critics review all, either.  Perhaps he should have added: And there’s too few resources to adequately promote those TV shows to a successful niche/

Landgraf added this 400 level would be the “peak” in the number of scripted TV series, and it’s increasingly hard to maintain “quality control.”

Digital and streaming video promoters might scoff at all of this, saying that a seemingly unlimited number of premium TV/video platforms can cater to these shows -- and perhaps more.  They might add that sophisticated and, more importantly, still growing media usage by TV and entertainment consumers hasn’t really stopped.

And so the bigger question is -- if Landgraf’s scenario comes to pass -- where will the decline occur? Will it be on established networks like USA Network, TNT, and AMC -- who like ESPN, might soon feel the effects of lower revenue from a smaller subscriber base? Maybe on the traditional broadcast networks?

We have been through this TV programming financial scare before. Some 16 years ago, analysts said the rising number of reality TV shows were the result of increased costs in scripted TV shows -- and that the number of scripted shows would decline.

Reality fare was cheaper to produce, though it had little to none of the rerun value of scripted TV programming.

You want to get more near-term nostalgic?  Wasn’t the “user-generated” video of a few years ago going to cause disruption of the TV ecosystem?  We are still waiting for that to happen.

6 comments about "Who Will Suffer From 'Peak' Number Of Scripted Shows? ".
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  1. larry towers from nyu, December 17, 2015 at 5:49 p.m.

    "Wasn’t the “user-generated” video of a few years ago going to cause disruption of the TV ecosystem?"


    It has. The user generated video is now scripted and backed by major players and it has definitely disrupted the ecosystem. You are just being fooled because production values have increased.


     

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 17, 2015 at 5:57 p.m.

    Is Landgraf aware that the average TV home can receive about 190 channels and that these channels need to put on enough program content, including "scripted" reality, off-network fare, sports, news, etc. etc to fill all of this time. Assuming his count of "scripted" shows is correct--I assume that he means original programming, not off-network stuff---so what? And does he really want us to believe that these are all "quality" shows and the poor viewer is being glutted by so much wonderful but difficult to promote content that viewers will respond by not watching? Incredible!

  3. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, December 17, 2015 at 6:04 p.m.

    The total number is irrelevant. If Netflix makes money on their original programming, they'll keep doing it. Same for FX, A&E, HBO, Showtime, etc. Perhaps some networks will cut back on the number of original scripted programming (certainly the Big 4 networks have), but it's not as if 400 is a magic number.


     


    As we shift more towards an "a la carte" and/or streaming system for television, we'll subscribe to shows like we subscribe to magazines, for which there was never a numerical limit. Some magazines thrived on small circulation, some magazines folded with huge circulations. It depends on their individual business models, and television will gradually move towards the same model. Would I pay more for an original season of Game of Thrones as I do for, say, Bones? Yeah, I would. And so would millions of others.

  4. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, December 17, 2015 at 9:39 p.m.

    Dear Wayne,

     

    Please don't tell me this is what's happening to TV.  Especially at Holiday Time!


    Can't you find a Big TV Problem ... like Nielsen's seemingly
    insane methodological modification on 12.28.  

    No fully tabulated national viewing data any more!  

    How will we really know how many people are vieiwing this surfeit of TV?

     

     

    As for this programming Kerfuffle ...

     

    I've said before and I'll say it again.  In fact, I think I own this aphorism.

    "Too much of a good thing is still (pause) too much."

    Many executive producers at NBC heard this from me during the "Must See TV" Era.

    It was a way of avoiding self-adulation which leads to self-imitation .. and loss of originality!

     

    Well Wayne, as we said in the old days "auribus teneo lupum."

     

    Sincerely,

    Nick

  5. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, December 17, 2015 at 9:43 p.m.

    Dear Wayne,

     

    Please don't tell me this is what's happening to TV.  Especially at Holiday Time!

     

    Can't you find a Big TV Problem ... like Nielsen's seemingly 

    insane methodological modification on 12.28.  

    No fully tabulated national viewing data any more!  

    How will we really know how many people are viewing this surfeit of TV?

     

    As for this programming Kerfuffle ...

     

    I've said before and I'll say it again.  In fact, I think I own this aphorism.

    "Too much of a good thing is still (pause) too much."

    Many executive producers at NBC heard this from me during the "Must See TV" Era.

    It was a way of avoiding self-adulation which leads to self-imitation .. and loss of originality!

     

    Well Wayne, as we said in the old days "auribus teneo lupum."

     

    Sincerely,

    Nick

  6. Nicholas Schiavone from Nicholas P. Schiavone, LLC, December 18, 2015 at 12:53 a.m.

    hys·te·ri·a


    həˈstirēə,həˈsterēə/
    (noun)



    exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement, especially among a group of people.
    "the mass hysteria that characterizes the week before Christmas"


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