Listen: ‘The Business of Television’ Author Reveals How Peak TV Shook Up Studio Dealmaking

Ken Basin Paramount Television

As a veteran of Amazon Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and now Paramount TV, Ken Basin has seen it all when it comes to crafting the deals that put series on the air. That’s why he’s written the new book, “The Business of Television,” which reflects just how dramatically the economics of the industry are changing.

In this week’s episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business,” Basin shares his predictions on where Hollywood is headed, particularly as it relates to the peak-TV phenomenon. “The pace of growth of what we are seeing in the industry is unsustainable, and I do think there will be a tipping point,” he said, citing decreasing levels in scripted series already registering at broadcast and cable networks.

While streaming giants should send the scripted total north of 500 series in the coming years, the growth of the tech companies will contribute to “a vacating of the middle in terms of scale,” said Basin, senior VP of business affairs at Paramount TV, of the media landscape. “Either everybody is going to be really big or really small and nimble.”

Nowhere is the frothy TV market more frenzied than when it comes to talent deals, where the representatives for top actors are asking for far more than they did a few years ago. That puts studio negotiators like him in a tough spot.

“You want to impose discipline, but if the other guy is willing to go there and you’re not, you’ll start losing the deals and you can’t keep the business running,” said Basin, who wrote a guest column for this week’s Variety magazine. “If you don’t win any deals because everyone else is making stupid deals, were the deals that stupid in the first place?”

“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring comedian/actor/producer Kevin Hart, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.