TV networks may continue to prized “premium” content -- otherwise known as scripted TV programming. But now, everyone wants a piece -- or has an opinion.
Former NBCUniversal co-chair Ben Silverman, now chairman/co-CEO of Propagate Content, says competition is not only tough for content, but everyone is much smarter.
“It is a absolutely a pain the neck right now because everyone has gotten so sophisticated in vying for every angle in how to make money from content, there is less to share in as a profit participant and creator,” he said on CNBC.
“This is also all the uncertainty as you are trying to galvanize talent, storytellers, actors and directors to work in these places -- questions you never had to answer.”
That explains the new TV landscape.
Among five major English-language broadcast networks, there will be 37 new scripted series for the 2018-2019 season -- the lowest level since 2012. It was at 39 the year before. Breaking this down, there will be 24 new dramas (versus 26 the year before) and 13 comedies (the same as the year before).
Renewals of returning TV networks shows were about the same as a year ago: 70 versus 71. The five major English-language broadcast networks break down this way: CBS, 20; ABC;14; NBC, 13; Fox, 11; and CW, 12.
Perhaps more glaring is that mini-network the CW is adding another night of prime-time programming -- Sunday, now totaling six. Should there be more growth?
Many will point the finger at Fox’s prime time. Since its decision to significantly include more sports programming next year -- NFL “ThursdayNight Football” -- scripted and other prime-time programming have fewer places to air. (In addition, Fox also airs a significant level of Major League Baseball post-season games in the fall.)
And there is more TV -- somewhat sports-related. Fox announced a five-year license deal worth more than $1 billion to air WWE “Smackdown Live,” the entertainment wrestling series. That amount is more than three times what NBC’s USA Network previously paid for the package.
Shifting emphasis for many networks continues. Major concerns are cost control, international and domestic sales of TV series episodes, higher affiliate fees from MVPDs and vMVPDs, and increasingly, program sales to digital video platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
Competition is a major factor, of course. Netflix and Amazon are developing their own programming -- and lots of it. Netflix will spend around $8 billion this year; Amazon, $4.5 billion; Hulu, $2.5 billion; and Apple around $1 billion. These companies now rival the big TV/movie production studios.
Here's the bottom line: As premium-scripted entertainment drops, will CPMs rise and/or sports programming? Maybe everything just drops. Then the premium fun really begins.