You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Peak TV: Summer Viewing Spikes as Broadcast, Cable, SVOD Battle for Attention

The summer TV doldrums vanished when cable turned up the heat on originals in the warm-weather months. Now that streaming services have joined the fray, we’re not just at “Peak TV,” we’re at “Peak Summer TV,” according to a study from consulting firm Miner &Co Studio.

It was only natural that the spike in the number of scripted TV shows overall — to more than 400 last year — would mean greater volume of originals in the summer months. But with new outlets jumping into the original programming fray seemingly every other day, ratings are starting to resemble fractal patterns. The fracturing continues to raise questions about how exactly all these shows get paid for, and what the ultimate cost is to the consumer.

Of the 801 people Miner surveyed online, 78% said having so many good options “doesn’t stress them out.” They’re devoting more of their time to TV this summer, as opposed to reading or going to the movies: two out of three respondents said they’re more likely to skip a $15 trip to the movie theater because of the higher-quality TV waiting for them at home.

The respondents weren’t just bingeing on old shows, they were also adding new series like CBS’ “Braindead” to their personal lineups. In fact, Miner & Co. Studio president Robert Miner told Variety, though it might not show in the overnight ratings, their survey results point to an audience return to cable and broadcast programming, at the expense of streaming. “For the past few years, we’ve seen streaming do to cable and broadcast what cable did to broadcast, about 20 years ago,” Miner said. “But this was the first summer in a while that we heard people talking about shows that were coming up on cable or broadcast.”

Of course, when FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said, “There is simply too much television” a year ago, he was merely trying to explain the terrifying fracturing of the TV landscape, a phenomenon that is only growing worse, with summer series ratings deliveries down by double digits in 2015. Add in ballooning production costs, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a perfect summer storm.

“Not only are production costs skyrocketing, your talent is maxed,” Miner said. “But because it’s a far more competitive landscape, that’s bringing a lot of people over from the film fold to TV.” (Which might explain why two-thirds of respondents said now TV has better writers and directors than movies.)

But to bring down costs, networks are committing to shorter and shorter (or split) seasons—which 64% of Miner’s survey respondents approve of—and leaning into the anthological miniseries model that began with FX’s “American Horror Story.” “These new formats which allow for some of the tradeoffs for the cost are actually satisfying for viewers as well,” Miner said. “I think they’re becoming nimble and more adaptable.”

Adaptation also means selling second-run rights to the highest bidder, regardless of whether they’re a competitor. But of some comfort to TV execs leery of cannibalizing their linear audiences is the idea that off-season catch-up can indeed drive live viewing, particularly when dealing with seasons that are only 10 or 12 episodes. “With these shorter seasons, you’re better able to handle the windowing and drive to live,” Miner said.

(Pictured: “Braindead”)

More Biz

  • Pete Frates, who is stricken with

    Pete Frates, Inspiration for The Ice Bucket Challenge, Dies at 34

    Pete Frates, the inspiration behind 2014’s wildly successful ALS movement, the Ice Bucket Challenge, died on Monday. He was 34.  The historic Ice Bucket campaign raised over $115 million to combat ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, which Frates also suffered from.  “Pete never complained about his illness,” his family said in a statement.  “Instead, he [...]


    ViacomCBS Will Explore Sale of Black Rock CBS Headquarters

    ViacomCBS will explore the sale of the famous Black Rock building, which has served as the headquarters of CBS since the mid 1960s. Bob Bakish, CEO of the company, which was created last week from the merger of CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc., said the newly combined entertainment conglomerate would explore the sale of sundry [...]

  • The recipients of the 42nd Annual

    Heartfelt Tributes Trump Politics at Kennedy Center Honors

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Political chatter was kept to a minimum Sunday night as the Kennedy Center Honors presented elaborate tributes to “Sesame Street” — made more poignant by the death of legendary puppeteer Caroll Spinney earlier in the day — as well as Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, Earth, Wind and Fire and conductor Michael Tilson [...]

  • Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden

    Chris Cornell’s Widow Sues Soundgarden Over Royalties, Unreleased Recordings

    A long-simmering battle between Chris Cornell’s widow and the other members of Soundgarden broke into the open Monday morning when Vicky Cornell announced that she is suing the group over hundreds of thousands of dollars in allegedly unpaid royalties and the rights to seven unreleased recordings made before the singer’s death in May of 2017. [...]

  • Stephen Colbert Julia Louis-Dreyfus

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus Talks 'Seinfeld,' 'Sexist' Environment at 'SNL' in Q&A With Stephen Colbert

    Stephen Colbert and Julia Louis-Dreyfus swapped stories about “Saturday Night Live,” Northwestern University, “Seinfeld” and the possibility of running for office during a Q&A held Saturday as part of Montclair Film Festival’s annual “Evening with Stephen Colbert” fundraiser. Colbert, a Montclair resident, has long been a booster of the festival, which is going into its [...]

  • 2019 Kennedy Center Honoree singer Linda

    Linda Ronstadt to Mike Pompeo: Stop 'Enabling' Donald Trump

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Linda Ronstadt, one of this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees, had sharp words for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday night during a State Department reception for the Kennedy Center kudos. Ronstadt and Pompeo faced off in the U.S. State Department’s ornate diplomatic greeting rooms at the traditional event that precedes Sunday’s [...]

  • pharrell brain child show

    'Blurred Lines' Flares Up Again - Marvin Gaye Family Claims Pharrell Perjured Himself

    Like a zombie that just won’t stay dead, the “Blurred Lines” case keeps coming back. While the 2015 verdict, in which Pharrell Williams, Robin Thicke and the song’s publisher were ordered to pay nearly $5 million to Marvin Gaye’s family for infringing upon the late singer’s 1977 hit “Got to Give It Up,” was basically [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content