Has Peak TV Peaked?

There are now 532 premium scripted TV serieson broadcast, cable and streaming platforms/networks — so-called “peak” quality TV up 7% from a year ago.

But maybe that’s about to change. Not the number of shows, just the quality part.

Longtime TV executive Barry Diller, now chairman/senior executive of IAC/InterActiveCorp and Expedia Group, a group of digital/online consumer companies, says TV production “workers are getting tried.” He points to producers, writers, directors and talent. Exhaustion means quality will suffer.

“We are going to have to start to expect less,” Diller recently said on CNBC. “That doesn’t mean you’re not going to have a great program every once and awhile. But there is so much pressure on what is a relatively small, creative community, that the pressure on it ... is going to reduce quality.”



For years now, FX Networks has warned that all shows cannot survive -- that marketing can’t promote and maintain viewer interest. In fact, viewers complain it is virtually impossible to see all the TV shows they are interested in. And yet, more keep coming.

Right now, streaming consumers have a different view. There is lots of excitement around Disney+'s “The Mandalorian.” There is continued interest in many Netflix TV shows, such as “Stranger Things,” “The Crown” and its original movies. There is also promising content on Hulu and Amazon ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel") and interest in the forthcoming HBO Max and Peacock.

It wasn’t that long ago, executives complained about the limited shelf space on broadcast's prime-time schedule and more recently, on established cable TV networks.

At the same time, increased production costs on scripted original content has forced some cable networks to abandon Peak TV -- including Bravo, CMT, VH1, WGN America, E!, TV Land and AT&T-owned Audience Network. The latter announced it would become a preview channel for HBO Max, WarnerMedia's streamer.

That's an irony, since the shelf-space issue has disappeared. What remains is unlimited digital media space — often full of dull space. Is a watered-down world of TV shows coming? For some, it might already be here.

1 comment about "Has Peak TV Peaked?".
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  1. David Mountain from Marketing and Advertising Direction, January 15, 2020 at 10:40 a.m.

    Likely typo on the quote: tired, not tried...

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