“Peak TV” gonna peak.
There were 559 scripted original series for adults in 2021, according to research performed by Disney General Entertainment and FX. That’s up 13% from a decline in 2020, when FX counted 493 shows. The 2021 tally is +23% from five years ago.
In terms of raw numbers, the 63 additional series represent the largest year-over-year increase.
The previous record-high was 2019’s 532 shows across broadcast and cable TV and streaming services.
The decline in 2020 was more due to the pandemic delaying production (the entire industry was shut down for three months) than any kind of pullback on scripted content. The 2021 numbers bear out that theory. For example two highly anticipated Disney+ series from Marvel Studios, “WandaVision” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” were pushed from 2020 until 2021.
There have been more than 400 adult scripted original series across television and streaming since 2016. Save COVID cancellations, there seems to be no sign we’re slowing down. Since 2019, Disney, Apple, Comcast and WarnerMedia have all launched new streaming services, while ViacomCBS beefed up CBS All Access into Paramount+.
Back in 2012, there were 288 scripted original series for adults, or about half of what we have now. FX’s research dates back to 2002, when it launched “The Shield.” There were *just* 182 shows on TV that year.
See below. The branding in the upper right-hand corner simply indicates the owner of the chart and research.
The actual number of scripted content available is far greater than what FX measures. These numbers don’t take into account foreign-language series like “Squid Game” which has become a mega hit across the world. Normally that wouldn’t matter, but streaming services, most notably Netflix, are finding success stateside with non-English shows.