Peak TV Update: There were 599 scripted shows in 2022

The “mayor of television” has weighed in on the industry’s recent trend of “not renewing” shows or (seemingly) haphazardly pulling episodes from streaming services.

John Landgraf, chairman of FX Content and FX Productions — and the originator of the term “#PeakTV” — served Thursday at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, where he reported that the industry aired 599 scripted adult originals last year /streamed series (up 7 percent from 2021).

But this massive volume of production hasn’t come without a cost, as viewers have Yes, really Over the past year we’ve seen numerous shows have had their renewals canceled or episodes/seasons “disappeared” from streaming services for reasons.

“We don’t have any concrete plans for it [at FX]but I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Landgraf admitted.

Landgraf examined how streaming has changed expectations since its advent, saying: “Whenever there’s a new delivery mode or new technology, there’s a long process of tweaking both how to tell the stories and how to tell the stories pervasive within this technology.” (He then talked about how film studios used to produce “thousands of films” but learned to “stop flooding the zone with things that were used up and then thrown away.”)

“I think the Internet is removing the limitations that used to be on volume,” he said. “In prime time, whether you had three networks or four networks or 200 cable channels, you had a limited amount of shelf space. They certainly had a limited amount [of shows] that attracted significant attention … and that was a limiting factor.”

“You just can’t take infinite amounts of money, spend it on something and then just throw it into a single [binge drop]’ said Landgrave. “For one, it gets stale after a while. And when you have a streaming platform with 10, 20,000 pieces of content, it’s very difficult to create a user interface that allows people to really find and discover every single piece of content on that platform. So a certain amount fails.”

In the case of streamers who pull shows (e.g. HBO Max and western world, The Nevers et al) to buy it from FAST services, Landgraf said that “there’s some value in getting it circulated somewhere else, someone who wants to market it, wants to suggest it.

“Although I will reiterate that we have no specific place to do this with FX shows, I think the industry as a whole is going through this reckoning…. We are in this mid-period of radical transformation from the stellar era to the post-internet era, and we are in a really bumpy part of that transition.” Peak TV Update: There were 599 scripted shows in 2022

Lindsay Lowe

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