COVID Erodes Peak TV: Scripted Series Declined 7% in 2020

Peacock, HBO Max launches could not make up for production troubles

Last Updated: January 29, 2021 @ 2:02 PM

In news that will shock absolutely nobody, the amount of scripted TV series produced in 2020 fell for the first time in years, thanks to production troubles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, thanks to FX, we know just how much it dipped.

According to FX Research, the total number of scripted television series last year was 493, a 7% decline from 2019 (532). This combined total includes broadcast, basic cable, premium cable and streaming services. FX did not provide any further information or a breakdown of each platform, as it has done in past years.

Even with the downturn, the amount of series was still higher than every year prior to 2018. In 2020, that figure topped 500 for the first time.

When the pandemic first hit the United States, it caused a months-long shutdown in production, with only animated series being able to largely stay on the air unaffected. Though some series have managed to film and finish production during the pandemic, it was still fewer than normal. Many shows that were supposed to premiere in 2020 were delayed until this year — for example, two highly anticipated Disney+ series from Marvel Studios, “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” were held for 2021.

The declines came as new streaming services HBO Max and Peacock launched, bringing forth a wave of new scripted originals like “The Flight Attendant” and the “Saved by the Bell” reboot.