John Landgraf admits that he was wrong before about Peak TV — but he’s sticking his neck out again.
“I’m going to foolishly make another prediction, which is that 2022 will be the high watermark” of scripted TV output, Landgraf told reporters on Tuesday during FX’s portion of the Television Critics Assn. press tour. “In other words, that it will mark the peak of the peak TV era. It will take a year and a half to find out if I’m right this time, or we’ll have to eat crow yet again.”
That’s because, according to FX Research, there have been 357 scripted series across broadcast cable and streaming that have launched through the month of June. That’s up 16% from this time last year, he said.
Last year’s final count of 559 scripted shows established a new all time high, he added. “I think it’s obvious that this year will bring a new record.”
The pandemic and production delays have made it tougher to predict, he added. “My original prediction that we would see maximum in 2018 or 2019 was obviously way way off,” he said. “This year, we’ve seen a tidal wave of scripted programming thanks to the bottleneck of COVID delay production finally clearing up from January 1 through the end of June. The number of scripted series has set a record for the first half of the year.”
As for why he thinks the stabilization is coming, Landgraf said he believes that 2022 is still a bit inflated because of delayed productions finally premiering this year, and “the difficulty of initiating and maintaining and completing production during the COVID pandemic. I think that 16% surge you’ve seen in the first half of the years is pretty extraordinary given how many episodes and television series premiered last year.”
Beyond that, Landgraf says he doesn’t see any further expansion via new streamers. “I think all the major streaming services have now launched,” he said. “We’ve seen a notable set of additions of new streaming services join the party in the last couple of years. And I think that process is complete. In other words, I don’t I don’t see new major purveyors of programming entering the scene as they have been continuously over the past decade or more. And in fact, there are some prior purveyors of of television programming that are kind of exiting the scenes.
“So in other words, you’re at the point now where you’re not really adding new suppliers, but you are, to some extent, subtracting suppliers. By the way, I’m not suggesting I think there’ll be any kind of precipitous drop. I really don’t know. As you know, from my prior failure, I don’t have a crystal ball. I can’t predict the future. But it just my guess that since this year is going to be extraordinarily large, it’ll end up maybe being the absolute peak.”
In January, FX Research’s annual report of scripted series noted that the number of original scripted series on television once again hit a record in 2021.
According to the company, which has been counting the number of shows on TV since it got into the scripted game with “The Shield” in 2002, there were 559 adult scripted original series across broadcast, cable and streaming services last year. That’s up a whopping 66 from 2020 (a 13 percent change), when there were 493 shows. The previous high was 2019’s 532 series.