If it feels like you spent most of 2016 in front of the television (or laptop, or smartphone, or however you watch #content these days), that’s because you did. Last year, FX CEO John Landgraf coined the term “Peak TV,” as in, there are so many shows on right now that it’s impossible to keep up with all of them. “This is simply too much television,” he said, referring to the 421 original scripted series in 2015. “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.” A year later, Landgraf realized he’d made a huge mistake.
(‘Member Arrested Development? That’s coming back for season five!)
“I wrongly predicted that we’d hit the peak in 2015 or 2016,” he noted during the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour. “It now seems clear that, at a minimum, the peak will be in calendar 2017 — and there is enough inertial momentum here that we could well see the growth trend carrying over into the 2018 calendar year.” Now FX has the data to prove it.
“Peak TV was once again far from peaky in 2016, with a record 455 scripted original series across broadcast, cable, and streaming sources,” said Julie Piepenkotter, FX’s Executive VP of Research in a press release. “This estimate reps a +8% increase over just last year (421 in 2015) ― but an astonishing +71% increase over five years ago (266 in 2011) and +137% over a decade ago (192 in 2006).” That’s a lot of TV, and it’s not getting easier: 2016 saw the end of Agent Carter, but in its superhero place steps Iron Fist, The Defenders, The Punisher, and The Inhumans, and that’s just on Netflix next year.
Here’s what Peak TV looks like in chart form.
Broadcast and cable series have actually decreased since last year, but the number of online shows has skyrocketed, from 46 to 93 (no wonder FX and Netflix don’t see eye-to-eye). Anyway, that’s 455 series total… but only one Young Pope. Maybe 2017 won’t be so bad after all.