Thanks to several streaming services and cable network pushes, the number of original scripted series available in the U.S. this year has risen to a whopping 409 series. That’s up 8.7% from 376 series last year, and a massive increase from the 211 series on the air back in 2009.
Free-to-air broadcast networks have remained fairly stable over that period with 122 series on the air in 2009 vs. 147 on the air in 2015. In the same period streaming went from essentially non-existent to 44 this year, while premium cable doubled over the six year period from 21 to 37 series.
Basic cable is where the real growth has taken place – jumping from 66 shows in 2009 to a whopping 181 shows in 2015. Back in July, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said that the total number of original series would likely surpass the 400 mark this year – he was right.
The exponential increase in programming has impacted the industry – driving up costs and thinning the pool of talent available for series – to the point that there’s much speculation about when this unsustainable “programming boom” bubble will burst. We’ve seen the first signs of it in the past year or two as well-made new shows are axed as they simply can’t cut through the clutter.
Similarly as skinny bundle cable packages move to the fore, smaller channels are going to be less likely to fund high-cost original series.