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TV Folks Say Glut of Scripted Series Makes it Difficult to Stand Out

IT’S A lot of white noise.

If you happen to be an average TV household, you have access to about 200 channels. You are probably watching about five hours of television every day. And, with the rise of streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu, more than 400 scripted series are vying for your attention this year.

Last year the tally was 371, which at the time was a record, and back in 2010, the number was about half what it is now.

Even the summer, once a wasteland for mediocrity and leftovers, was jam-packed. This year there were more original scripted options than ever before.

Now, with so many different programs to choose from, some people are wondering if there’s too much. How is a normal person supposed to keep track of all of these series?

“There’s just too much competition,” warned FX CEO John Landgraf recently at Television Critics Association summer press tour — normally a time when the network brass crow endlessly about every single TV show under the sun.

“My sense is that 2016 or 2017 will represent peak TV in America, and then we will see a decline.”

FX, of course, is no stranger to scripted television. It was one was of the first cable networks to produce original scripted programming, debuting “The Shield” with Michael Chiklis in March 2002. At that time, the estimated original scripted series on cable was about 30.



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  1. As usual I think the competition aspect is vastly overplayed, while the quality aspect is totally overlooked.

    When you have a network like USA thinking that unwatchable Mr. Robot is, somehow, “quality TV”, it’s no wonder they don’t get ratings.

    It has very little to do with the competition.

    As before, I am also very skeptical of FX’s numbers as i wonder what they are counting as a scripted show today and what they counted in 2010.

    Given this seems to be their campaign to excuse the bad ratings of the channel (and perhaps also of the flagship FOX which is looking more and more like the Titanic in the last few minutes of the eponymous movie) I’d be curious to see their methodology.

    In particular, it seems obvious that they are counting a 6 episode limited show (which used to be a mini-series!) as being the same as a 26 episode sitcom.

    They are also not counting TV movies which have taken a huge drop in number recently…

    About the summer, I’ll disagree and say it’s still filled with “mediocrity and leftovers”, except the main networks have so few shows that re-run decently they’ve had to resort to trying original shows, rarely finding anything that rates solidly (can’t think of anything except the first season of Under The Dome) and airing foreign-shows (are those now counted as ‘original scripted shows”? Were they then?)

    I do agree with their prediction, however, as you can’t keep making shows nobody watches (sorry NBC!) unless you have outside money coming in constantly.

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