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Peak TV Is Officially Over: FX Tallies 14 Percent Drop in Scripted Series for 2023

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The Peak TV era is officially over.

FX CEO John Landgraf, the so-called “Mayor of Television” who coined the term “Peak TV” in 2015, released his network’s annual research on the volume of U.S.-produced scripted original series for 2023, and the numbers are in line with what the industry had anticipated. The total number of broadcast, cable and streaming shows (made for adults) clocked in at 516, down a whopping 14 percent from the 600 comedies and dramas produced in 2022.

The 14 percent decline is the largest decrease since FX began tallying originals. The 516 shows are the lowest since 493 in 2020 when the pandemic halted productions for months and forced media companies to re-evaluate their financials.

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The decline in the total volume of originals comes as no surprise as media companies canceled a wave of shows, some as a result of production delays caused by the dual strikes and others because they wouldn’t be ready until much later than previously expected, creating a marketing logjam and limiting the funds networks and streamers alike would need to spend to raise awareness.

While the casual viewer would likely blame the strikes for the decline in volume, the Peak TV bubble burst well before the labor unrest began last May as Wall Street shifted to focus on profitability rather than subscriber gains for big streamers like Netflix and Apple. Although all the major streamers continue to have massive war chests, many have diversified spending to bulk up on such fare as local-language originals and sports and sports-adjacent unscripted fare, among other sectors.

The television industry’s content contraction has seen a wave of programs un-renewed (a la A League of Their Own) and outright canceled as streamers re-evaluate their needs and largely stop trying to go head-to-head with streaming giant Netflix, which many have already crowned the winner of the streaming wars. Some high-profile recent cancellations include Max’s Our Flag Means Death, AMC’s Lucky Hank, Apple’s Schmigadoon, Paramount+’s Wolf Pack, Disney+’s American Born Chinese, HBO’s Winning Time, Hulu’s The Great, Netflix’s Obliterated and Peacock’s Pitch Perfect, among scores of others. On broadcast, a number of long-running scripted shows will come to a close this year as conglomerates look to right-size their slates and cut costs as linear ratings continue to crater. At the same time, many prestigious shows — The Crown, Reservation Dogs, Succession and Ted Lasso to name a few — have come to their natural conclusions.

Landgraf revealed the Peak TV data Friday during his time at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour.

Here’s FX’s annual tally of scripted series since 2009:

2009: 210
2010: 216
2011: 266
2012: 288
2013: 349
2014: 389
2015: 422
2016: 455
2017: 487
2018: 496
2019: 532
2020: 493
2021: 560
2022: 600
2023: 516

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