FX Networks CEO John Landgraf warned of a “content bubble” forming on TV with 400 scripted series set to air in 2015. The amount of programming is so great that the CEO admits he’s lost track of it all, but the programming rush will end soon. Likewise, many of the classic business models in television will have to change, thanks to disruptive streaming sites and premium channels like HBO.
According to MSN, 2015 will set the record for the amount of scripted series on TV with 400 shows (the previous record was 2014 with 371 series).
As John Landgraf explained on Friday at the Television Critics Association press tour, “There is simply too much television.”
“I long ago lost the ability to keep track of every scripted TV series… But this year, I finally lost the ability to keep track of every programmer who is in the scripted programming business.”
In addition to old channels increasing their scripted series output, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are producing more and more content. Netflix will soon have about 40 original series, according the FX Chief’s projections.
But the bubble will come to an end, according to John Landgraf.
“This is simply too much television. My sense is that 2015 or 2016 will represent peak TV in America, and that we’ll begin to see declines coming the year after that and beyond.”
The CEO insists the bubble won’t burst, but rather deflate, potentially eroding profits along the way.
Landgraf says he’s tried to keep FX out of the content rush, worried that it would make quality control and maintaining the channel’s brand identity difficult.
“I really don’t care how much money a business has to spend, as someone who struggles everyday to program good and great television, who still reads nearly every script and watches every rough cut of every episode we program, I believe it’s impossible to maintain quality control with too many shows.”
And that brand recognition will become increasingly important as viewers are overwhelmed with new shows and need a way to cut through the lower quality programs. In addition to his own network, John Landgraf cited HBO, Showtime, Netflix, and a few others as examples of strong brands.
Still, even with the recognition, the CEO says TV will become increasingly hard to monetize, especially for old media using conventional ratings systems, according to Variety.
With many old shows being brought back to life on streaming services (think of Hulu’s well-advertized Seinfeld launch) and the new content, average ratings for all programming is dipping.
Crowding one-hour shows with 20 minutes of ads will only push more programming to streaming services, leaving the old guard in trouble.
What the television landscape will look like after the chaos is over is anyone’s guess. John Landgraf pointed out that advertisers are already working to bring more value to limited time for commercials, but many viewers might prefer a monthly payment like Netflix.
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