Peak TV has definitely stopped
Three years ago, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf presented his first “Peak TV” report in which he analyzed the rising number of series coming out on TV, cable and streaming services over the course of one year.
Two weeks ago, he revealed the 2017 figures which set a new record with 487 scripted series, up 32 shows from 2016 and up nearly a hundred shows from the levels of 2014. Adweek came out with the praising title “There’s No Stopping Peak TV”, but a comparison between 2014 and 2017 shows that traditional TV has definitely come to a stop.
Thus in 2014 the so-called Broadcast Networks aired 148 series and by 2017 that number increased to 153 (up only 3.4%) while the average for the four-year span was 149.25. Pay Cable recorded 34 shows in 2014 and 42 in 2017 (up 23.5%) with an average of 37.25 shows per year (Streaming had 33 back in 2014). Basic Cable saw almost no change between the 2014 and 2017 figures – 174 vs 175 with an average of 179.5 shows per year. The combined result of “Traditional TV” players was 356 shows in 2014 and 370 in 2017, or only 3.9% growth in the frame of four years. Comparing this to the nearly four times jump of Streaming services – from 33 in 2014 to 117 series in 2017, I think it is safe to say that traditional broadcasters have definitely reached the peak as regards their ability to produce scripted content. If Streaming keeps up the 2016 growth rate of 30% next year it will be on par with Broadcast Networks and almost on par with Basic Cable (if it continues to drop in 2017) with a little over 150 shows per year. Will this then be interpreted as another “Unstoppable Peak TV” or as the end of the era in which Broadcast TV was the main source of entertainment for the U.S. viewers? We will check in next year to find out.
Meanwhile, the 75th Golden Globe Awards clearly showed that this is already happening creatively as Amazon, Hulu and Netflix won awards in five out of the 10 TV categories. And if we exclude HBO (which should have its own category) from the calculation, the situation for traditional TV doesn’t look so good with only two awards – FX’s Fargo and NBC’s This Is Us. Just a few years ago, streaming platforms were struggling to even make the nominations.
The momentum is clearly in favor of Streaming with traditional TV trying to hold its ground for the attention of the precious eyeballs. The battle seems to be lost already but without proper measurement of VOD viewership and comparison with linear TV ratings we will never know what the actual reality is. Until then, we will keep counting shows, awards and mergers. ▪