Still Too Much TV? Day Of Reckoning: Sometime In 2019

Two-and-a-half years from now, scripted TV series will be in a decline. Nothing will go pop, mind you. There’ll just be less. But who and what will be affected?

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.

2 comments about "Still Too Much TV? Day Of Reckoning: Sometime In 2019".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, August 11, 2016 at 5:21 p.m.

    Who is kidding whom. Scripted TV shows---mainly sitcoms and dramas--- cost more to produce than so-called "unscripted" TV shows like reality entries as well as many other "genres"---talk shows, game shows, etc. And, as a rule, scripted shows do not garner enough viewers per minute realtive to their costs compared to unscripted shows, which, therefore, are more profitable to the networks and cable channels that carry them.

    Fortunately most TV programmers recognize that they should offer a balanced diet of entertainment fare---not just reality shows--- so they continue to work with producers to develop and license scripted fare and, as part of many deals, to become partners with the producers when the shows go into rerun syndication, which is where major profits are to be had for both partners. In contrast, unscripted shows, as a rule, do not fare well in syndication so this, in large part, offsets the significance of their lower production costs. With unscripted, the producer and the network or cable channel makes most of its profits on the original run, plus whatever foreign sales can be made; in contrast, the scripted shows often churn up red ink on their original runs but make big profits in syndication. A sensible programmer, who is also looking for aftermarket profits will always want to use a certain proportion of scripted shows, not only for the rerun profits but also as loss leaders in their original runs, attracting "quality" conscious advertisers as part of multi-show bundles.

    Frankly all of this nonsense about "tipping points" due to the supposed "glut" or scaling back of program genres is just plain silly. Barring some unforeseen seismic calamity---like every TV viewer shifting all of his/her viewing time to Netflix ( fat chance )---- we will see various cycles where the proportion of scripted to unscripted shows swings one way or the other but, in the end, TV programmers will use whatever mix of program content that yields not only the most ad revenue in its original run, plus generates the most total profit for the programmer as the producers' business partner. And, generally, viewers will go with the flow.

  2. Robert Miner from MIner & Co Studio, August 12, 2016 at 1:45 p.m.

    Viewers couldn't be happier with Peak TV.  Rather than being overwhelmed - they see it as a cornucopia of content. Here's the latest study covering their perspective!insights--ideas/c11n

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