Peak TV: Scripted Series Surpass 400 in 2015

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In new data from FX Networks' research, the number of scripted programs on broadcast networks, basic and pay cable networks and OTT services totaled 409 for 2015.

FX Networks CEO John Landgraf declared this the era of "Peak TV" back in August at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, and now he has assembled new data to further his claim.

In what has since become a game-changing presentation that has spawned many a think piece and comments from other major players in the TV industry, Landgraf specifically predicated that the number of scripted series would surpass 400, with the apex of such shows coming in the not-so-distant future.

Turns out, TV is already halfway there. In newly released figures from FX Networks' executive vp research Julie Piepenkotter, the number of scripted programs on broadcast networks, basic and pay cable networks and OTT services totaled 409.

That number represents a nine-percent increase from 2014 (376 series) and a 94-percent jump from 2009 (211 series). Going all the way back to 2002, when FX first joined the scripted series conversation with Emmy winner The Shield, there's been a 484-percent leap in specifically basic cable scripted series.

Even more breathtaking is the fact that these numbers do not account for reality, made-for-TV movies or children’s programming — all popular areas for scripted opportunity on broadcast as well as basic and pay cable networks.

"The unprecedented increase in the number of scripted series has reached a new milestone in 2015 with a record 409, nearly doubling the total in just the past six years," said Piepenkotter. "This was the third consecutive year that scripted series count has grown across each distribution platform — broadcast, basic and pay cable, streaming — led by significant gains in basic cable and digital services. This statistic is staggering and almost unimaginable from where they were a decade ago."

A big part of Landgraf's assertion about the proliferation of scripted series is that such programming will begin to decline as soon as next year.

"This year, I finally lost the ability to keep track of every programmer who is in the scripted programming business," he said at the time. "This is simply too much television. My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond."

Landgraf's missive sent shockwaves through the TV industry with supporters as well as detractors, and the idea of peak TV has continued to dominate conversations in the months since the exec took the Beverly Hilton stage in August. 

With the winter press tour just weeks away, it remains to be seen just how Landgraf will follow up his comments about TV's content bubble when he takes the podium in Pasadena.

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