We’ve known for some time that we’re in the midst of Peak TV, but now FX has quantified that ongoing phenomenon. Its annual research report reveals that, for the first time ever, streaming shows now outnumber their traditional-TV counterparts. 495 scripted original programs premiered in 2018, 160 of which debuted on a streaming platform; there were 146 on broadcast television, 144 on basic cable, and 45 on pay cable.
That’s compared to 117 streaming shows last year, an increase that stands in sharp contrast to the declines seen by broadcast (153 in 2017) and basic cable (175). FX was kind enough to include a number of charts with its report, one of which shows that new streaming shows accounted for 32 percent of all debuting programs — an eight percent increase from last year.
This development was recently parodied in a “Saturday Night Live” skit presented as an ad for Netflix. “In 2019 we’ll have even more programming to choose from, because we’ve gone crazy,” announces a narrator who sounds a lot like Beck Bennett. “That’s right, we’re spending billions of dollars and making every show in the world. Our goal is the endless scroll: By the time you reach the bottom of our menu there’s new shows at the top, and thus the singularity will be achieved.”
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It isn’t just Netflix — or even Hulu and Amazon — of course, as more and more companies are launching proprietary streaming services to catch up. Similarly, a number of networks have begun focusing less on scripted series in favor of reality programming in recent years, accounting for part of the disparity. As you contemplate the implications of all this, avail yourself of some graphs: