In 2016, FX CEO John Landgraf expressed his concern that streaming services would eventually drown us all in original content, thanks to the ever-expanding reach of so-called “Peak TV.” He was especially critical of Netflix’s model for original content, insisting that “they can’t double and double and double, because then the entire planet’s surface would be covered by Netflix television shows in 20 years.” That’s not necessarily how digital content works, but in 2018, Landgraf’s worries came true.
According to a new report out from FX, a whopping 495 scripted original series aired this past year. (This is up from 2017’s 487, but less than Landgraf’s prediction that 2018 would see at least 520 shows.) Of this, 32 percent, or 160 shows, were distributed by streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Their closest competitor, broadcast television, put out 146 shows, or 30 percent of the pie. Basic cable followed with 144 shows (29 percent), while paid cable managed to eke out 45 scripted original series (9 percent).
This is a lot of television. Some may say it’s too much. Others, like Uproxx‘s Brian Grubb, would rather point out just how absurd these numbers are by making up fake television show titles and loglines that are impossible to differentiate from the real ones. Yet what’s significant about the 2018 edition of FX’s annual report is the fact that, for the first time since streaming platforms first began distributing original programming, they’re leading the pack in terms of quantity.
After all, Facebook Watch managed to make an original series starring Catherine Zeta Jones titled Queen America, in which the film actress played a troubled pageant coach. And to answer to the two immediate questions that just occurred to you, yes, Facebook is making its own scripted shows, and yes, one of them stars Catherine Zeta Jones.