If there is a herald of the age of Golden TV or ‘Peak TV’, it would be FX boss John Landgraf who has now dubbed the current era ‘The Gilded Age’ of TV. Twice annually offering plenty of data about the TV industry as a whole, Landgraf’s TCA presentations are famous for their cataloguing of how many scripted shows are on the air.
According to FX, 319 scripted series have premiered on linear and streaming television so far this year, up 5% from the same time last year. Most of those have been on streaming services (up 46%) and premium cable (up 42%), while things are down on basic cable (-11%) and broadcast (-5%).
Landgraf says: “I once said to this group I thought there was too much television. In some ways I think there’s too much story. Too much narrative… Profusion of stories is very good if you want to talk about innovation and diversity, [but] it’s very hard if you’re talking about trying to surprise the audience and delight the audience.”
Landgraf admits he’s given up on his Peak TV prediction. Previously he thought the escalating number of scripted TV series will peak very soon before starting to decline, but now he says such a peak is still a long time off – especially in this age of big media mergers.
He also took a brief shot at Netflix, saying there’s no way FX could or should want to replicate their model: “You can’t get infinitely bigger without diffusing the brand. I admire much of the programming that Netflix makes. But I will also say that their business model is to mean all things to all people. I don’t see that as our role.”