Some say we are living in a “golden age” of television. That may or may not be true, but there’s one thing that’s certain: we’re living under an absolute torrent of scripted shows.
Over the last few years, the amount of original scripted shows has roughly doubled, from 216 in 2010 to 419 in 2015. And it’s shown no signs of slowing down in 2016.
One big driver has been the entrance of streaming heavyweights like Amazon and Netflix, which began making originals in 2013. Netflix has said it will release a whopping 1,000 hours of original shows and movies in 2017. That would take you 41 days of binge-watching to get through.
But it’s not just Netflix. Cable networks have also ramped up production in a serious way.
A recent chart from Deutsche Bank shows just how much the landscape has exploded since 2002. Here it is:
This might be good for customers, who have more choice than ever, but it’s not good for some TV networks.
One such network, which analysts from Pacific Crest pointed to in a recent note, is AMC.
AMC built its recent success out of high-quality dramas like “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” and “The Walking Dead.” But these types of shows have become a commodity, according to the analysts.
“The explosion in high-quality original dramas driven by [streaming video on demand] companies [like Netflix] has commoditized an area of programming that AMC helped popularise and represents the core of the network’s brand,” they wrote.
Pacific Crest’s thesis is that there are simply too many good serialized dramas being produced, especially by streaming services, and AMC is suffering from the glut. Pacific Crest had been hopeful that AMC’s strength of programming would continue to help it prosper, but now the analysts are significantly lowering their ad revenue estimates going forward, and think “continued declines for existing AMC programming are likely.”
That sounds dire, but networks like AMC may be in for some relief.
FX boss John Landgraf says the sheer volume of shows will have to go down soon. “I will still stick by my prediction that we are going to hit a peak in the scripted series business within the next two and a half years — and then see a decline — by calendar (2019) at the latest,” he said in August.