Peak TV: Scripted Series Tally Poised To Surpass 500, As Viewers and Networks Face Another Record Year

TCA: FX Networks chief John Landgraf gives a mid-year report on "too much TV," and braces for an avalanche of streaming shows to come.
John Landgraf

Peak TV still hasn’t peaked. According to FX Networks chief John Landgraf, as of August there have been 342 scripted programs via broadcast, cable, and streaming services this year – up from 325 at this time last year.

That puts the year’s tally racing toward a landmark 500 scripted shows in 2017, up from 455 in 2016. (There were 216 series in 2010, so the number has already doubled.)

But here’s where things might still explode before the end of the year: Streaming services have run 62 series to date (up from 51 this point last year), but have announced an additional whopping 79 shows. It’s unlikely all of those series will premiere before the end of the year – but if they did, the number would be 141 streaming shows, up from a total of 95 last year.

If that’s the case, Landgraf projects that the full series tally could rise to 534 – and, he pointed out, that’s before Apple even announces its TV plans under its new programming bosses.

“Yeah, it’s going to continue to grow,” Landgraf told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills.

Among other year-to-date numbers, the broadcast networks have aired 127 scripted shows this year, up from 118; premium cable has run 25, up from 23; and basic cable has had 130, a tick down from 131 at this point last year. (The broadcast network rise seems to be from the increased addition of short-order series at the broadcasters, which have increasingly borrowed the limited-run series strategy of its cable counterparts).

During his talk with reporters, Landgraf also address the “massive transformation the business is undergoing,” and also pulled back beyond just the TV industry to discuss “the epic battle unfolding for who will control human attention” in all aspects of life, such as Walmart vs. Amazon in the retail space.

“If we want to understand the roots of underemployment and stagnant wage growth, look no further than toward the lack of market regulation,” he said.

Silicon Valley’s business strategy, Landgraf noted, is “winner take all or most.” He said a “titanic struggle” is underway as businesses move toward a monopoly or duopoly structure.

Here’s the scripted series tally that FX released at the end of 2016:

FX tally of scripted original TV seriesFX
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