John Landgraf, FX Networks CEO, says this year some 450 English language TV shows will air on broadcast, basic cable, pay cable and online platforms this year -- up from his estimates of 417 a year ago. The news gets worse: Landgraf says this could rise to 500 soon, “and then decline” around 2019.
What happens then? We can only guess. Will TV networks/platforms start running more cheaply produced TV shows -- say, reality TV fare? Landgraf estimates the average hour of scripted programming now runs $4 million an episode to produce. Surely that number will go down.
One thing TV networks/platforms might do is rerun more programming, despite promises to the contrary. For example, during the upfront meetings in May Fox, for one, said it would be adding more first-run programs for 90% original. Now doubt other networks have been trying to do the same.
Landgraf’s description: “I think we are ballooning into a condition of oversupply which will at some point slowly deflate, perhaps from 500+ shows to 400 or a little less than that.”
Landgraf, who seemingly makes an annual offering up of worries about too many TV shows, is also concerned about promotion of each of these shows. If you can’t get enough marketing for TV show, who will watch? They can’t all be supported through traditional advertising, and social media exposure isn’t going to be enough.
Maybe TV content providers need to have shows on each other's networks/platforms -- no doubt with financial/advertising share arrangements for such deals.
Taking this further, veteran TV analyst Steve Sternberg says broadcast TV networks continue to make a mistake by not allowing cross-network program advertising -- that is, having TV networks run advertising time promoting shows on each other’s airwaves.
So, again, what happens?
Will networks/content producers/SVOD services go out of business? Will true digital content marketers make a move to prime-time TV? And how does this work in the current environment, where viewers are more than ever upset about seeing TV advertising?
Maybe what we need --- riffing off Landgraf’s reference -- is something simple, like a Balloon Channel monitoring/analyzing the health of all those TV shows. Pop or deflate? I’d watch that.